Challenging road has QB eager to back up Titans’ Tannehill
BY TERESA M. WALKER
AP SPORTS WRITER
Logan Woodside is used to being written off as a quarterback, starting when he was forced to transfer to a different Kentucky high school to start and then being benched twice in college at Toledo.
The NFL has been a little different so far.
A seventh-round draft pick by Cincinnati in 2018, Woodside has been part of seven NFL roster moves. Now he is in Tennessee’s training camp being given the chance to earn a roster spot in backing up Ryan Tannehill.
Woodside has yet to appear in an NFL regular-season game, let alone attempt a pass. Not that he cares about the odds of chasing a job he’s wanted since he was a child.
“This isn’t the first time that I’ve gone through this type of situation,” Woodside said. “Now, just use those learning experiences to know that something is going to be better on the other side and just continue to work and good things are going to happen to you.”
The Titans had preferred experience in recent seasons with Matt Cassel, Blaine Gabbert, and Tannehill as the backup to Marcus Mariota. Tannehill replaced Mariota last October, and now he’s the Titans’ starter with a four-year contract.
Instead of signing another veteran, the Titans want to look at Woodside and Cole McDonald, their seventh-round pick out of Hawaii, to back up a veteran who missed 24 games between 2016 and 2018 in his final three seasons with Miami.
The Titans first signed Woodside to their practice squad two days after Cincinnati waived him in September 2018, then released him Sept. 25. They signed him again in April 2019, waived him at the end of training camp, and signed him to the practice squad a day later.
An injury to his right, throwing arm put him on the injury list Sept. 12. Woodside stuck around working as a quality control coach, even traveling and charting plays during games. The Titans signed him to a futures contract in January.
General manager Jon Robinson, coach Mike Vrabel, and offensive coordinator Arthur Smith have made clear for months they like the 6-foot-1, 213-pound Woodside whose only pro starting experience came in 2019 with San Antonio in the short-lived Alliance of American Football League.
“Certainly, we like Logan’s arm strength and believe in what he’s done, pleased with what he did last year in the preseason,” Smith said Friday. “Thought he did a nice job. Logan’s got a good arm, he’s accurate, he’s decisive.”
Tannehill said Woodside studied how he prepared last season, dissecting both the what and why of what worked in practices during film study.
“He’s very inquisitive,” Tannehill said. “Last year (he) asked a lot of great questions and I feel like grew a lot, even though he wasn’t out there practicing with us since he was on IR. Really he wasn’t on the field, but I felt like he really got a lot out of last year and so far he’s carrying that into 2020.”
Woodside believes he knows both the offense and what the coaches want on each play. He also is confident in his accuracy, timing, and ability to throw to the right man at the right time.
“Really, that’s the main thing,” Woodside said. “Being smart with the football, just continuing to win, we need to make a play, and they’ll trust me to make it.”
With no preseason games, judging Woodside will be tougher. But training camp is the time to look at options, and other NFL teams have little experience behind their starters right now.
Miami drafted Tua Togavailoa with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick ready to start early and Josh Rosen is also around. Green Bay drafted Jordan Love to learn from Aaron Rodgers. The Packers’ only other quarterback is Tim Boyle whose NFL experience is four career passes and appearances in three games.
Woodside was the Mid-American Conference’s offensive player of the year in 2017 when he led the MAC in completing 64.2% of his passes and with 28 touchdown passes. He finished with 10,514 yards passing and 93 touchdowns in his career at Toledo.
Now Woodside has his best opportunity to keep the Titans from signing a veteran before the season is scheduled to start Sept. 14 in Denver.
“The only thing I can do is control what I can control and give it everything I’ve got,” Woodside said.