MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Malik Willis rushed for 91 yards and threw a touchdown pass while playing the entire game for Tennessee, and the Titans dominated at the line of scrimmage in a 24-16 preseason victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night.

Rookie Tyjae Spears had a 33-yard touchdown run, Julius Chestnut rushed for 98 yards and a score and the Titans (1-1) racked up 281 yards on the ground to give resting star Derrick Henry a good show.

Willis, the 2022 third-round draft pick, has been competing with rookie Will Levis for the backup role to Ryan Tannehill. Levis was injured Thursday in a joint practice with the Vikings, giving Willis an extended opportunity.

Playing behind the starting offensive line in the first quarter, Willis was out of sync with his receivers on several throws — tight end Chig Okonkwo had two drops — and finished 10 for 17 for 85 yards. He had a pass intercepted by Troy Dye and fumbled during a sack, with the Titans recovering.

Rookie DeWayne McBride had a touchdown run and Greg Joseph made all three of his field goal tries for the Vikings (0-2), who didn’t play a single starter. Quarterback Kirk Cousins, who turned 35 on Saturday, flashed a wide smile as he waved to the crowd after a happy birthday message flashed on the videoboard. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson practiced his signature touchdown dance, the Griddy. Otherwise this was another audition for the depth guys and roster hopefuls.

The Titans put plenty of pressure on Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens and on the other side ran the ball with consistent success. Spears, the third-round draft pick out of Tulane, hurdled Lewis Cine and made the second-year safety whiff on his arm tackle attempt on the way to the end zone in the first quarter.


Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell again took the cautious approach by keeping his starters on the sideline, satisfied with two days of intense drills and simulated game situations. Titans nose tackle Teair Tart, who was kicked out of practice on Thursday for throwing a punch at Vikings center Garrett Bradbury, was the only starter who played on defense.


One of the loudest roars from the crowd came after a video interview with the late Bud Grant, the Hall of Fame head coach who died in March at age 95. The Vikings are honoring Grant, who guided them to four Super Bowl appearances, this season with a jersey patch and other tributes.


Titans: After WR Treylon Burks was sidelined earlier this week, two more WRs suffered knee injuries: Kyle Phillips and Kearis Jackson. Philips, their fifth-round draft pick in 2022, is first in line as the punt returner. Jackson, an undrafted rookie from Georgia, returned one punt and two kickoffs.

Vikings: Theo Jackson, whose strong performance during training camp has furthered the enviable depth at safety, was hurt on the tackle that saved a touchdown on the 55-yard run by Chestnut. Jackson was escorted into the medical tent with his left arm hanging limp by his side.


Titans: Host New England on Friday night after joint practices with the Patriots on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Vikings: Host Arizona next Saturday night after joint practices with the Cardinals on Wednesday and Thursday.