Tennessee Titans 2022 third-round pick quarterback Malik Willis has had an up-and-down training camp so far, but he might have had his best day on Thursday during the team’s latest practice.
Willis was able to get some No. 2 reps with Logan Woodside working on the side, and he was able to make the most of his opportunity with a strong showing during the seven-on-seven red-zone period.
“Very good [seven-on-seven] stretch for Malik Willis just now,” ESPN’s Turron Davenport wrote. “Showed arm strength driving the ball from the opposite hash to Terry Godwin by the pylon for a TD. Went [through] progressions, rolled left and found Josh Malone for a [completion] then showed anticipation/touch to Briley Moore on seam for TD.”
Before practice, quarterbacks coach Pat O’Hara went into detail about what Willis is doing well, and what he needs to improve upon.
“He’s able to retain information really well, and so his decision-making, which we monitor, has been very good for a rookie,” O’Hara said, according to Paul Kuharsky. “And things that he hasn’t had to do before, relative to working from the pocket, his feet need to catch up with his mind.
“It’s getting better; it takes time,” O’Hara continued. “Malik has a very strong arm and a really cool skill set, but you can’t always rely on that all the time. These windows are tight; the geography is different with the hash marks in the pro game, which makes a big difference, in my opinion.”
The point about Willis’ footwork catching up to his mental processing is nothing new, as the rookie himself admitted that it was something he needs to work on moving forward.
“I’m processing faster than what I’m used to going within my footwork processing. I’m processing the information and knowing what I need to do, but in order to be on time and be able to throw with anticipation I need to help my feet get up with my processing abilities,” Willis explained, per ESPN’s Turron Davenport. “Knowing what to do but just getting the reps where you’re able to do it without thinking.”
Another positive O’Hara sees with Willis is his ability to operate outside the pocket, which comes as no surprise after the dynamic plays he made during his days at Liberty.
“When you’re playing quarterback, the NFL provides protection for quarterbacks,” O’Hara said. “When you’re inside the pocket, which is the tackle box, you’re protected in the head/neck area, and you’re protected from being hit low. You’re also protected from body weight landing on top of you. That’s three different protections for a quarterback. Once you leave that tackle box, you’re only protected in the head and neck area. You need to operate outside the pocket, but you need to operate from inside the pocket as well. Operating outside the pocket isn’t a problem for Malik.”
Whether or not Willis can do enough to win the backup job over Woodside remains to be seen, but it appears the rookie is trending in the right direction in his development, which is paramount at this early stage of his career.
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Story originally appeared on Titans Wire