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Young QBs Hope to Convince Titans Not to Bring in Another Veteran

Cole McDonald of the Tennessee Titans

When the Titans eventually return to the grass, they’ll have players – rookies and veterans – competing for spots on the roster.

At quarterback, the race currently looks like this behind starter Ryan Tannehill:

Logan Woodside is set to return, and he’s coming off a year when he performed well during preseason opportunities. Woodside also impressed his bosses last fall with his work behind the scenes while on Injured Reserve.

Cole McDonald joins the competition after being selected in the seventh-round of the NFL Draft. He was a gunslinger at the University of Hawaii, but he’s raw and admittedly needs work on his mechanics.

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With last year’s back-up – Marcus Mariota – now with the Raiders, the Titans could have a back-up with no NFL regular season experience heading into the season.

The Titans might also decide to bring in a veteran at some point if they feel it’s necessary.

Woodside and McDonald will have a chance to make that decision for them, depending on how they perform in practices leading up to the season. Currently, veterans are taking part in virtual meetings, while rookies can join the Zoom calls with the veterans after the virtual rookie camp this weekend.

Titans GM Jon Robinson indicated following the draft there’s time to let the back-up QB situation play out.

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It’s unclear, however, when teams across the NFL will be allowed back in buildings for on-field and in-person classroom sessions.

“We’re not going to set the roster to 55 on the (final) day of the draft,” Robinson said. “(McDonald) is a guy that’s got really good size, really good athleticism, ran fast, he moves around, he’s got good arm strength. We spent quite a bit of time with him here in the process just getting to know him a little bit – Arthur (Smith) and Pat (O’Hara) did and developed a good relationship with him. Felt like from a tools standpoint, he was a guy that we’d like to work with.”

At Hawaii, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound McDonald finished his career fourth on the school’s passing yards (8,032) and passing touchdowns (70) lists. In 2019, McDonald completed 63.8 percent of his attempts for 4,135 yards and 33 touchdowns.

On a conference call last week, Tannehill said he texted McDonald and welcomed him to the team.

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“Excited to have him in the room,” Tannehill said. “I know he’s a guy who played a lot of football at a high level out there, threw for a ton of yards, really athletic guy, I think he was the fastest guy at the Combine. I think he’ll fit in our room nicely and looking forward to working with him.”

Tannehill said he’s also been impressed with Woodside, who started last year’s preseason finale against the Bears and completed 17-of-29 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 104.4.

In four preseason contests in 2019, Woodside completed 46-of-76 passes for 539 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was an impressive 99.6.

Woodside, a seventh-round draft pick of the Bengals in the 2018 NFL Draft, spent the fall on IR because of an elbow injury.

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“I have a ton of confidence in Logan — he’s grown so much just in my time here with the Titans,” Tannehill said. “From when I came in in the spring, he’s been nothing but attentive and hungry to grow and to get better. I saw him do that over the course of the year. He did a great job of helping me out, helping Marcus out in any way we needed, and really just get better on the mental side. Once he went on IR he wasn’t able to practice and do it physically, but he was growing mentally. I could see him growing, the questions he was asking, the notes he was taking, it just got better and better as the year went on.

“Obviously, got to see what he could do in training camp, so definitely a talented guy. A guy who can make all of the throws and put the ball accurately where he wants to put it. Now, seeing over the course of the last year the mental aspect of his game grow so much, I’m really excited to see him get back on the field and watch him play.”

Already this offseason McDonald has been working on his game, including making adjustments to his throwing motion – specifically his windup.

In time, the two quarterbacks will be able to compete.

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“Just going in there as one of the backups and just being behind (Ryan) Tannehill and being a good quarterback in that room to help push him and make him a better person on the field,” McDonald said. “I’m just excited to get in there and learn from those amazing players and ultimately become a better football player mentally.”

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