Salem Radio Network News Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sports

Vrabel plays no games: Titans starting Dobbs at QB vs Jags

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Quarterback Joshua Dobbs will make a second straight start Saturday night in Jacksonville with the Titans’ playoff hopes on the line despite being signed Dec. 21 off Detroit’s practice squad.

“Josh will be our quarterback,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Monday. “I’ve talked to both quarterbacks and let them know that Josh will be our quarterback for this week, and then Malik (Willis) has to continue to prepare like a starter.”

The Titans (7-9) can win their third straight AFC South title with a victory Saturday night. That would give them a home playoff game along with snapping a six-game skid that has seen Dobbs as the third different quarterback to start since Tennessee’s previous win Nov. 17 at Green Bay.

Tennessee started Dobbs, who just made his first NFL start in a 27-13 loss to Dallas last Thursday night hours after putting 11-year veteran Ryan Tannehill on injured reserve. Willis was the Titans’ third-round draft pick by general manager Jon Robinson, who was fired Dec. 6.

The six-year veteran had more yards passing by halftime of his Titans’ debut than Willis managed in any of his three starts and eight appearances.

Dobbs finished with 232 yards passing, almost as much as Willis had had combined (276) this season. Willis has been intercepted three times with his only TD off a run.

Vrabel made it clear they’ve been impressed with Dobbs’ work ethic, noting the quarterback has worked hard the past couple of days.

Helping the former University of Tennessee star is he has a degree in aerospace engineering and spent two years at NASA’s Kennedy Space Flight Center as part of the NFLPA’s program.

Dobbs was a fourth-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2017 and now has appeared in seven games. He played in five with the Steelers in 2018 and one in 2020. He spent 2019 with Jacksonville after the Jaguars traded for him to help back up Gardner Minshew after Nick Foles broke his collarbone.

The newest Titans starter also will have a full week of practice as compared to prepping for one game as a backup signed four days before his Tennessee debut. Dobbs then had five days to prepare for the first start of his NFL career.

Now the Titans can see how much Dobbs can absorb with an emphasis on red zone plays.

“There’ll be some things that we will try to add or maybe things that we practiced last week that we didn’t run,” Vrabel said. “Well, I think it’s just going to be good to have a full week.”

The Jaguars (8-8) won the first game between these teams Dec. 11 thanks to four turnovers leading to 20 points in a 36-22 victory in Nashville with Tannehill starting. The Titans rested Derrick Henry along with six other starters against Dallas. Vrabel said that will only help depending on how the Titans play.

“Hopefully we’ve taken advantage of the time,” Vrabel said.

NOTES: The Titans placed S Andrew Adams on injured reserve, putting them at 23. He hurt his right knee defending a TD catch in the loss to Dallas. With two Titans having returned, they’ve had 25 on injured reserve — one off last year’s total for the season. … They signed S Mike Brown off Cleveland’s practice squad and signed S Nate Meadors to the practice squad.

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at https://twitter.com/TeresaMWalker

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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