Tannehill out with Titans not saying whether Will Levis or Malik Willis will start

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans ruled veteran quarterback Ryan Tannehill out for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons with a high right ankle sprain.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel wasn't ready Friday to announce if rookie Will Levis or second-year pro Malik Willis will start in Tannehill's place.

“The same plan," Vrabel said. “I’m not ready to really talk about that, but I’m excited to watch both of those guys play.”

Tannehill, 35, hurt his ankle Oct. 15 in a 24-16 loss to Baltimore in London and couldn't finish. He hurt the same ankle twice last season, costing him five games. He didn't practice this week coming off Tennessee's bye, which he spent with his ankle in a cast to speed healing.

“When you are injured, can you protect yourself, can you do your job, and are you going to make it worse," Vrabel said of deciding to sit Tannehill. "Through the course of those questions, we didn’t feel like he could reasonably protect himself at the position.”

Willis has played in 10 games and is 1-2 as a starter. He relieved Tannehill after his injury in London and completed 4 of 5 passes for 74 yards. Willis, the 86th pick overall last year by a general manager fired in December, also was also sacked four times.

The Titans traded up to No. 33 overall to draft Levis in April. He will be making his NFL debut with 23 tickets for family and friends ready to watch.

“This is the game I love. I’m just ready to go out there and play ball,” Levis said. “I’m just going to try and take it all in. I know I’m going to be a little nervous, which is completely normal. I’d be crazy not to be. But I’m just going to take some deep breaths, take it all in and focusing when it’s needed.”

If Levis starts, this would mark the most rookie quarterbacks at seven to start in the first eight weeks since the NFL merger (excluding 1987 replacement player season). Six rookie quarterbacks started in that span in both 1971 and 2021.

Levis would become the third rookie quarterback to start a game inside the AFC South alone, joining Anthony Richardson of the Colts and Houston's C.J. Stroud. Bryce Young, Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Aidan O’Connell and Tyson Bagent are the other rookie starters at quarterback.

Clayton Tune is the only other rookie to throw a pass this season.

The Titans ruled out cornerback Roger McCreary with a hamstring injury and rookie tight end Josh Whyle, who did not clear concussion protocol. Vrabel said the Titans would likely turn to rookie Eric Garror off the practice squad to replace McCreary.


AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report.


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