Fri, 14 Aug 2020

TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: QUARTERBACKS

In camp (3): Ryan Tannehill, Logan Woodside, Cole McDonald.

Offseason developments: The Titans re-signed Tannehill to a lucrative multi-year deal back in March, making it known to everyone he was the team's quarterback of the future all along after rumor mill speculation erroneously focused on former Patriots QB Tom Brady, who eventually signed with the Buccaneers. Marcus Mariota, the No.2 pick of the 2015 NFL Draft who went from starter to back-up last season in Tennessee, signed with the Las Vegas Raiders. The Titans drafted former Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald in the seventh-round of the 2020 NFL Draft. McDonald signed his rookie deal last month. With the team's facility closed to players, Tannehill spent most the offseason working in South Florida with tight end Jonnu Smith, although he traveled to Nashville for some work with teammates as well. Woodside was a regular at throwing sessions with teammates on fields in Nashville, building chemistry with many of the team's receivers and tight ends.

In the spotlight: Tannehill. Acquired last March in a trade with the Dolphins, Tannehill was named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year after leading the NFL with a 117.5 rating in 2019. During the regular season, Tannehill threw for 2,742 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions, and he guided the Titans to a 9-4 mark after replacing Mariota as the starter in Week 7. In 2020, Tannehill will be counted on to pick up where he left off last season. With plenty of weapons around him, and a year under his belt working with offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, Tannehill seems poised to keep the momentum going.

Battle to watch: Logan Woodside vs. Cole McDonald. Woodside, who joined the Titans in 2018, is the favorite to win the No.2 job behind Tannehill. Over the past two years he's impressed those around him with his work ethic, and when he got a chance to play in last year's preseason, he showed something, completing 46-of-76 passes for 539 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions with a passer rating of 99.6. Woodside completed 17-of-29 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns (with a 104.4) while starting the preseason finale at Chicago. But the Titans didn't draft McDonald to keep the Hawaii connection going after Mariota's departure. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound McDonald finished his career at Hawaii fourth on the school's passing yards (8,032) and passing touchdowns (70) lists, and he's an impressive athlete as well. McDonald will try to topple Woodside in camp.

Keep an eye on: The possibility of adding a veteran QB. Neither Woodside nor McDonald want to see this happen, of course, and it won't if either of them plays well enough to convince coaches and the front office the team is in good hands at QB2. Woodside has paid his dues, and he needs to prove he's capable when the training wheels come off and he goes for a ride. The lack of an offseason program, OTAs and minicamp hurt McDonald's chances of developing in Year 1, and it didn't help Woodside either. Both QBs would have benefitted from the extra work. But no one wants to hear any excuses. Veteran QBs will be available in August, and there's a chance the Titans could add one then if they aren't comfortable with what they have behind Tannehill. Will they need to pick up the phone? Again, this will be up to Woodside, and McDonald.

Next up: Running backs (on Wednesday).

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