AFC South Rumors: Titans, Burks, Scruggs

The Titans seem confident in moving forward with second-year passer Will Levis as their starter under center. With Levis’ relative inexperience in the NFL, though, the backup quarterback job has become an important one.

In nine starts as a rookie, Levis struggled with a 3-6 record and only completed 58.4 percent of his passes. Not counting a Week 16 game in which he only saw the first two drives of the contest, Levis averaged 224 passing yards per game in an offense spearheaded by Derrick Henry. He showed considerable poise for a rookie, though, throwing eight touchdowns to only four interceptions and adding a rushing score to his total, as well.

So, despite Levis’ seemingly cemented status as QB1, the backup quarterback job will be a crucial one for the Titans in 2024, and new head coach Brian Callahan told the media that veteran Mason Rudolph and recent third-round pick Malik Willis will compete for the honor, per Terry McCormick of In two years with the team, Willis has seen limited usage with uninspiring results. Discounting garbage time or gadget play appearances here and there, Willis has made three starts, all coming in his rookie season. In those starts, Willis completed a combined 25 of his 49 pass attempts and didn’t once eclipse 100 passing yards as the offense was focused around Henry.

Rudolph saw his highest usage in 2019 with the Steelers, making eight starts in 10 games as an injury replacement for Ben Roethlisberger alongside Devlin Hodges. Despite going 5-4-1 as a starter while throwing 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions coming into 2022, Rudolph found himself seemingly out of consideration for the starting job as Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett combined for just 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. As those two continued to struggle to produce in 2023, Rudolph helped revive one of the league’s least efficient offenses as it circled the drain, rattling off three straight wins to help keep Mike Tomlin‘s streak of winning seasons alive before ultimately losing the team’s first-round playoff game.

Now, Rudolph and Willis will duke it out for backup duties behind Levis. If Levis struggles, Rudolph provides an ability to fill in as a proven starter. Willis will have a chance to show what he can provide, as well, as he continues to develop at the NFL level.

Here are a couple of other rumors coming out of the AFC South:

  • Staying in Nashville, Callahan stressed in an interview this week that wide receiver Treylon Burks will have to contribute on special teams in order to justify a roster spot this year, according to Easton Freeze of Broadway Sports Media. We profiled Burks recently as a trade candidate as the acquisitions of Calvin Ridley and Tyler Boyd pushed him further down the depth chart after a disappointing start for the former first-round selection out of Arkansas. While the Titans may not be willing to give up completely on Burks, they do recognize that his continued presence on the roster means he will need to find other ways to contribute if not on the starting offense.
  • Lastly, former second-round pick Juice Scruggs debuted late into his rookie season last year, starting at left guard for the Texans‘ final six games of the season after coming off injured reserve and replacing an injured Tytus Howard. Originally projected as an NFL center coming out of Penn State, Scruggs is expected to return to his natural position and start for Houston in 2024, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2.
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