Tennessee Titans backup DeShone Kizer has much of what you'd want in a QB, but it hasn't been enough yet | Estes
One of them stands about 6-foot-4, maybe taller. He’s got the prototypical frame, along with an arm and athleticism.
The other quarterback is 3 inches shorter. At least.
One starred under the Golden Dome. The other, for the blue and gold of Toledo.
One was a second-round draft pick. The other, barely drafted at all.
Indeed, on paper, this preseason’s competition for the Tennessee Titans’ backup quarterback spot looks like a mismatch.
A week into training camp, it has been. Just not in the way you might expect.
The more diminutive, less-heralded Logan Woodside has outperformed DeShone Kizer, the former Notre Dame quarterback. It hasn’t been close. Woodside, as the Titans’ incumbent No. 2, has continued to look very much the likely choice as Ryan Tannehill’s backup. Woodside has been more accurate than Kizer, more decisive and more consistent.
That last word would be the one that sticks out to Kizer. We’ll get back to that. In the meantime, Kizer is trailing, but it's not over. He’s got more practices – and three preseason games – to make up ground.
It’s pressure, sure. But nothing he hasn’t experienced before.
“Playing at the University of Notre Dame, I think, was the best decision I’ve ever made,” Kizer said. “The way that they treat their program and the way that they treat their quarterbacks is the closest thing, I think, you can get to an NFL spotlight. … It makes situations like this a lot easier.”
Kizer said he wouldn't have handled a slow start to the preseason as well if it had happened a few years ago. A lot has happened since then.
He's only 25, but he's already on his fourth NFL franchise. While it’s tempting to view him as an underachiever – given his considerable potential – it’s fair to note that he hasn’t gotten any breaks from this league.
Drafted by the Browns, Kizer was dealt a horrific situation as a rookie in 2017. He quarterbacked 15 games for a terrible Cleveland team that didn’t win a game. Kizer’s record as an NFL starter thus remains a woeful 0-and-15.
Any quarterback’s confidence would be shaken by such a dreadful experience.
“Not the best of seasons to be a part of,” Kizer said, “but I learned a lot from it. … Feels like a long time coming to climb my way back into getting in a position to play. I feel like this is one of the most solid situations I’ve been in.”
The Browns traded Kizer to the Packers, who later cut him. The Raiders claimed him off waivers, but they ended up cutting him in September last season.
Two months passed before Kizer signed with the Titans in November after Trevor Siemian moved on to the Saints.
As the third-stringer, Kizer stepped into Siemian’s quarantined quarterback role that the Titans used last season in order to have someone available in case of a COVID-19 outbreak at the position.
For about six weeks, Kizer’s daily routine was to wake up, drive to the Titans’ facility for a COVID-19 test, go back home and jump on Zoom meetings and then wait until practice ended before coming back to throw with receivers on the practice squad.
“Yeah, it’s a little different,” Kizer said. “A lot of my experiences that I was able to gain with these guys were over Zooms. I was on the other side of an iPad. This year has been a blessing to be able to have OTAs with them and build the comradery needed to hopefully lead.”
It’s uncertain if the Titans plan to continue doing the QB quarantine again this season with most of the team vaccinated.
When I asked Mike Vrabel, he didn’t say no, just that they might consider it based on “where things are going.” If that is in place again, it would all but guarantee the Titans keep three quarterbacks.
And Woodside, as always, is the clear frontrunner for the No. 2 spot.
For the past couple of seasons, the Titans have insisted how comfortable they are with Woodside, and yet they've kept trying to replace him. Kizer is the latest example.
He's hoping to make the most of the opportunity. Asked what he most wants to show the Titans, Kizer replied, “That I can be a consistent quarterback.”
“Everywhere I’ve been,” he said, “there’s been a lot of conversations about potential and ability and mental. I just want to prove that I can be the same guy every day and be a great teammate and fill in whatever role that may be. …
“As long as you get an opportunity to come back on and put pads on and put a jersey on, you’ve got to make sure you’re climbing and learning from it.”
Reach Gentry Estes at email@example.com and on Twitter @Gentry_Estes.