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Titans HC Brian Callahan on Will Levis learning new offense, becoming leader: 'He's got a lot on his plate'

These are the infant stages for Brian Callahan as the Tennessee Titans head coach.

They are much the same for second-year quarterback Will Levis, who's been handed the reins as the Titans starting quarterback and is tasked with all the responsibilities that go with that spot, along with learning a brand-new system.

Though it's just a small sample size so far in the voluntary offseason program, Levis has impressed Callahan. Still, there's no sugarcoating it that the 24-year-old signal-caller has plenty upon his shoulders.

"He's got two things going on," Callahan told reporters Wednesday. "He's trying to build relationships and be a leader, as well as learn an entirely new way of doing and playing football than he's been accustomed to in his first year. He's got a lot on his plate."

Levis is looking to establish himself as a leader on a new-look Titans squad while simultaneously learning a new offense. It's no easy task and there's plenty more to do, but so far so impressive, according to Callahan.

"I've been very pleased with his demeanor, his actions as he's started the offseason program," Callahan said. "And again, we're in our first few days, but really excited about where he's headed in that role."

A 2023 NFL Draft second-round pick out of Kentucky, Levis made his NFL and starting debut in phenomenal fashion. Taking over for the injured Ryan Tannehill, Levis ignited a long dormant Tennessee offense with a four-touchdown showing in a 28-23 Week 8 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Levis' rookie campaign wasn't all highlights and histrionics, though. In nine starts, he finished with 1,808 yards passing, eight TDs (half coming in his first game), four interceptions and a 3-6 record.

Now he's starting anew with Callahan, whose past work with Joe Burrow as the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator offers optimism for what lies ahead in his union with Levis.

First things first, Callahan wants Levis to be the genuine article, something that apparently comes natural to the QB.

"I want Will to be him," Callahan said. "He's gotta do it in his own way. You can't make people do anything that's outside of their character or it doesn't come across as genuine. I think Will does a really good job of staying true to who he is.

"I need Will to just be the best version of himself and he's got a job to do as the leader of the offense as the leader of the football team. And I think he understands that."

Callahan's come to that conclusion based off what he's glimpsed so far this year at workouts and what he saw last year in Levis' play. He's a fiery competitor with a live arm who's aiming for greatness.

"Just from what I've seen so far, and again, I'm still learning Will every day that goes on, but he's got an intensity and an intent every time he walks in the building," Callahan said. "I think you see that in his play when you watch him play. You see that intensity, that fire that he's got. That's not manufactured, that's how he is. He's got a way about him that's driven. I think he wants to be a great player and he puts the requisite work in."

Levis built an instant chemistry with veteran wideout DeAndre Hopkins. Now he'll have Calvin Ridley at receiver, as well. However, there are plenty of holes to fill as Levis played behind an often-porous offensive line a season ago, and Callahan pointed to tight end and slot receiver as needs for the club ahead of the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft.

For now, though, the first-year head coach is happy with what he's glimpsed from the Titans' young franchise QB. If nothing more, Levis' desire for greatness is a starting point to get excited about.

"He's very determined to improve his game," Callahan said. "You have that part, you gotta chance to do a lot of really cool things. But I've seen that from him in this early portion. He's front and center, he takes notes, he asks questions. He does all the things you'd want to see early in the process of a guy that's trying to improve his game and get better."

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