EAGAN, Minn. -- When the Titans drafted quarterback Will Levis this year, many assumed their 2022 third-rounder, Malik Willis, had all but lost his opportunity to be the team's signal-caller of the future. But Willis remained entrenched as Tennessee's No. 2 QB at joint practice with the Vikings on Thursday, and not only that, but expressed a growing belief in himself.
"It's a day-by-day effort," Willis told CBS Sports of his improvement going into Year 2. "It's a lot more than 'this year, next year.' It's a day-by-day effort. ... (You've gotta) take advantage of the opportunities you're given. Because as long as you wake up, you got another one. And you gotta be grateful for it. That's what I've probably learned the most, just not comparing (myself) to anybody, just understanding ... I need to be grateful for waking up each day and getting another opportunity, another swing at it."
The 24-year-old Liberty product, who's noticeably upfront about his Christian faith, says he reads Scripture each day in an effort to grow spiritually, which in turn aids his teachability -- and confidence -- as a QB.
"If you're gonna believe, you gotta believe whether (things are) good, bad or indifferent," Willis explained.
It's safe to say Titans fans can believe the second-year QB will open 2023 as the top backup behind veteran starter Ryan Tannehill. While Levis showcased an electric arm in individual drills Thursday, he took most of his reps with the third-team offense after an uneven preseason debut. His day also ended prematurely when he exited late with an undisclosed injury.
Willis, meanwhile, had his fair share of hiccups working against new Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores' aggressive fronts. But his mobility also had Minnesota defenders, including safety Josh Metellus, on their toes throughout the day.
"Ryan Tannehill and Kirk (Cousins), I would say they're pretty similar in some ways, in terms of just mobility," Metellus said after practice, "(but) Malik Willis and Will Levis, they moved the pocket a little more than we were used to, just going against Kirk."
After all was said and done, Cousins spent an extended time talking with both Willis and Tannehill post-practice. It was the first time Willis and Cousins met, and while the former jokingly admitted he "didn't teach (Cousins) how to scramble," the younger QB appeared to receive some pointers from the Vikings starter, who briefly demonstrated some drop-backs during their conversation.
Willis is currently listed behind Tannehill on the Titans' unofficial depth chart, and he's slated to get prominent playing time when Tennessee plays the Vikings in their scheduled Saturday night exhibition.