Training Camp Buzz: Titans rookie QB Malik Willis showing progression; A.J. Brown appreciating competition from Eagles CBs

Malik Willis earns reps with second-team offense

Less than a week ago, Titans coach Mike Vrabel said they want to make things "as hard as possible" for Malik Willis in order to help slow things down for the rookie quarterback. On Thursday, Willis got a chance to work with the second-team offense during the 7-on-7 red-zone period, and Vrabel applauded him for his composure after practice. A strong showing with the 2s indicates he's picking up what coaches are laying down. "He's able to retain information really well, and so his decision-making, which we monitor, has been very good for a rookie," Titans QBs coach Pat O'Hara said Thursday, via Paul Kuharsky. "And things that he hasn't had to do before, relative to working from the pocket, his feet need to catch up with his mind. It's getting better; it takes time. Malik has a very strong arm and a really cool skill set, but you can't always rely on that all the time. These windows are tight; the geography is different with the hash marks in the pro game, which makes a big difference, in my opinion." O'Hara couldn't hide his grin while mentioning Willis' foresight outside the pocket, indicating his dynamic ability to be a threat through the air or on the ground. By all accounts, Willis is showing improvement already in the early stages of camp with plenty more experience to come over the next month. The 23-year-old Liberty product is sure to be one of the more interesting prospects to watch as preseason games get underway.

A.J. Brown leveling up with help of Eagles CBs

The acquisition of A.J. Brown was a game-changer for a young Eagles offense, but Philadelphia's newest feature is looking to elevate his game. Joining Inside Training Camp Live on Thursday, Brown is appreciating how the competition from Eagles cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry is making him better. "The battle with both of the guys has been really tough," Brown said. "... I really like going against those guys every day because it's making me disciplined in my routes; me being clean in and out of my breaks because I know that if I'm going to step off or add an extra step, the ball can go the other way really fast. I'm taking advantage of this." The biggest benefactor of Philadelphia's draft-day splash, Jalen Hurts, who not only got a Pro Bowl-caliber target from the trade but a tangible vote of confidence, crashed his new teammate's interview to say how Brown's presence has elevated the team's disposition. "This whole team is hungry," said Hurts. "So, the mentality we have right now is great. We just need to continue to build off of it, and I think the leadership A.J. brings, the mentality he brings, the experience he brings, has been very beneficial for us as a team." Entering Year 3, Hurts went on to say that he's appreciating the continuity with Nick Sirianni's coaching staff, which is something he says he hasn't had since high school. The vibe in Philadelphia is certainly different as 2022 approaches and the team's longtime are noticing. Said Fletcher Cox on Thursday: "I feel like this team can be special."

Bills Mafia has your back(side)

Star pass rusher Von Miller was a fan favorite for over a decade in Denver and will be forever appreciated in L.A. for last season's Super Bowl-winning run. Now Miller is getting first-hand experience of how different the fans are in Buffalo. "Football fans are great, but Bills Mafia is different," Miller said Thursday. "I made one comment last week about the toilet paper at training camp and they haven't stopped mailing me different kinds of toilet paper and plant-based wipes." Though Bills Mafia is notorious for its table-breaking antics, the fan base is as charitable as they come when it comes to supporting any player's cause or gripes about the rugged dorm life in Rochester.

Reich liking Colts' young WR corps

Opportunity is knocking for a young wide receiver corps in Indianapolis as the well-rounded Colts enter 2022 with veteran quarterback Matt Ryan at the helm. Head coach Frank Reich is a fan of the WR room, which features no player under the age of 26 and an array of possibilities on the depth chart. "We've got this young group. Nobody thinks we've got a group of [receivers]," Reich said on Inside Training Camp Live Thursday. "They think, oh, the Colts' skill is that they're downhill. We'll see. I'm looking forward to this season. There's a toughness, there's a competitiveness to them." With a clear No. 1 in Michael Pittman, the Colts WRs will duke it out over training camp and through the preseason for a chance at viable playing time. Second-round rookie Alec Pierce is turning heads so far in camp, and Reich says the Cincinnati product is an apt reflection of the young pass-catchers in Indy. "Alec, from Day 1, knows that he belongs," Reich said. "But he still has that respect being a rookie. Same thing with all our young guys." Who is coaching up the Colts wideouts you say? None other than Colts legend Reggie Wayne, whose wisdom seems to be rubbing off during his first training camp as WRs coach.

Ja'Wuan James up for the challenge at LT

Ja'Wuan James is stepping in at left tackle for the Ravens while Ronnie Stanley (ankle) continues his recovery on the physically unable to perform list. Having played right tackle for the extent of his six-year career, James, 30, is anchoring the left side for the first time since his high school days. "It's definitely a challenge," Stanley said, via ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "I'm not going to lie." In addition to the challenging adjustment, James hasn't played a snap since the 2019 season after opting out of 2020 and missing all of last year due to an Achilles injury in the offseason. The Ravens were willing to take a chance anyway, and James' availability to help man the left side is proving to be beneficial as the team prepares for the season.

Training camp highlights

NFL+ gives you the freedom to watch LIVE out-of-market preseason games, LIVE local and prime-time regular-season and postseason games on your phone or tablet, the best NFL programming on-demand and more! Wherever you are, this is how you football! Learn more about NFL+.

Related Content