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Malik Willis to Start for Titans vs. Texans After Ryan Tannehill Ankle Injury

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 22, 2022

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 18: Malik Willis #7 of the Tennessee Titans throws the ball during the first quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Tennessee Titans will turn to rookie quarterback Malik Willis as the starting quarterback for Saturday's matchup with the Houston Texans, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Veteran Ryan Tannehill has been ruled out for the game with an ankle injury.

NFL reporter Paul Kuharsky reported Wednesday that Tannehill was likely done for the season, opening up the chance for Willis to make an impression down the stretch.

The 23-year-old has made two starts this season, going 1-1 in those contests. For the year, the third-rounder out of Liberty has thrown for 177 yards and an interception, completing a woeful 44.7 percent of his passes while taking six sacks. He's added 80 rushing yards.

"I think the previous experience helped a lot, as far as just knowing what it takes and knowing what your routine is going to be in order to prepare," Willis told reporters Wednesday. "It's different every week, who we play. But the way you prepare is the same mostly. It's just understanding what it takes and going out there every day. Now I get the reps a little more, and it's just about going out there and getting better."

TURRON DAVENPORT @TDavenport_NFL

Malik Willis on being more comfortable in the scheme and keeping a positive mindset. Wise words beyond his years from the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Titans?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Titans</a> rookie. <a href="https://t.co/jrXS3kxIFb">pic.twitter.com/jrXS3kxIFb</a>

It will be a trial by fire for Willis at a crucial juncture in Tennessee's season, with the 7-7 Titans holding onto a tenuous one-game lead in the AFC South over the suddenly hot Jacksonville Jaguars (6-8), winners of four of their last six.

The Titans, meanwhile, have lost four straight.

The Jags won the first matchup between the teams by a 36-22 score, with the division potentially coming down to the final week of the season when the two teams face off in Jacksonville for the second time. The division winner will claim the No. 4 seed in the AFC.

It may be a moot point if the Titans can't get past the Texans and a Week 17 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. At least this week, Willis finds himself in the spotlight.