Titans expected to start QB Josh Dobbs; Malik Willis to serve as backup against the Cowboys

The Tennessee Titans have two of their quarterbacks on the sideline for their Week 17 matchup Thursday night.

Veteran starter Ryan Tannehill was already on the shelf due to a recent ankle injury, but now rookie quarterback Malik Willis is also expected to sit out against the Dallas Cowboys.

The team will start recently signed quarterback Joshua Dobbs, according to a report from CBS Sports.

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Joshua Dobbs of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FirstEnergy Stadium Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.

Joshua Dobbs of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FirstEnergy Stadium Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.
(Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

The move is somewhat surprising considering Dobbs was signed off the Detroit Lions practice squad a little over a week ago.

The sixth-round draft pick has never started an NFL game.

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The Titans took Willis in the third round of this year’s draft. The former Liberty University standout has already stepped in to start a handful of games this season when Tannehill was injured.

Willis has a 1-2 record as a starter and has not quite shown the franchise he is ready to take the reins as the future starter.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis passes against the Houston Texans during the first half of a game Oct. 30, 2022, in Houston. 

Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis passes against the Houston Texans during the first half of a game Oct. 30, 2022, in Houston. 
(AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Willis has completed 50.8% of his passes for 276 yards and three interceptions.

Willis was seen as a project coming out of college and still needs to develop as a passer. The rookie was an exceptional runner at the collegiate level.

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Willis has racked up 123 yards on the ground and has a rushing touchdown on the season.

Dobbs has been in the NFL since 2017 and spent his first few years with the Steelers. Since then, he’s mostly been a journeyman, primarily serving as a backup with the Jaguars, Browns and Lions. He did rejoin the Steelers in 2020. 

In his career, Dobbs has completed 10 passes for 45 yards and one interception.

Joshua Dobbs of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium Nov. 13, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Joshua Dobbs of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium Nov. 13, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Fla.
(Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Thursday’s matchup with the Cowboys is mostly inconsequential to Tennessee as it relates to its playoff hopes this season.

Tennessee can afford to lose Thursday’s game and still make the playoffs. The outcome of the Titans’ Week 18 matchup against the Jaguars will determine the winner of the AFC South.

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Titans head coach Mike Vrabel previously ruled out Jeffery Simmons and other key contributors for Thursday night. Star running back Derrick Henry was officially listed as doubtful heading into the game and is also not expected to play.

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