NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)The Tennessee Titans have a competition for the job backing up quarterback Ryan Tannehill at this point of the preseason.

The Titans on Saturday started Malik Willis, the 86th pick overall taken in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft by the last general manager. Then Will Levis, the 33rd selection overall out of Kentucky in April, came in as they alternated every couple of series in their 23-17 preseason opening loss to Chicago.

Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel said Sunday that backup quarterbacks more often have to come in on a moment’s notice than having a week to prepare.

“Most of the time they’re going to have to come in off the bench and be ready to execute,” Vrabel said. “So that’s some of the things that we were trying to recreate.”

Willis opened the game well behind the Titans’ first-team offensive line. He finished 16 of 25 for 189 yards with one interception, while Levis was 9 of 14 for 85 yards and an interception. Both quarterbacks were sacked four times apiece.

The Titans couldn’t have drawn up a much better opening drive for Willis, the quarterback out of Liberty.

He drove the offense 80 yards over 12 plays and capped the possession by running for a 2-yard touchdown. After Luke Gifford recovered a muffed punt, Willis had plenty of time and overthrew 6-foot-7 rookie tight end Josh Whyle, who had the ball go off his hands at the goal line to a defender for an interception.

Vrabel said both shared blame on the interception, with Willis likely wanting to throw the ball a bit lower and Whyle wanting to catch it. The play was a strong reminder of how lost points can hurt in the scheme of a game.

“That’s a play that needs to get executed,” Vrabel said.

The Titans got the ball right back when cornerback Tre Avery picked off a pass by Bears backup P.J. Walker, and they converted that turnover with Levis at quarterback. Hassan Haskins went over the top for a TD on fourth-and-1 that tied the game at 14.

Assistant head coach and defensive line assistant Terrell Williams was acting as head coach for a 48-hour period, including for the game.

The Titans also had a bunch of starters watching from the sideline not in uniform. That group included Tannehill, three-time All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and three-time Pro Bowler Derrick Henry on offense. Defensively, the 11 starters not playing included two-time Pro Bowl lineman Jeffery Simmons.

Vrabel said it was a lot of fun watching Williams.

“The most important thing it was well deserved,” Vrabel said. “It was something that I absolutely should have done.”

The Titans practice Monday in Nashville before heading to Minnesota for a pair of joint practices with the Vikings ahead of their preseason game Saturday night. Vrabel isn’t tipping his hand about which quarterback will start but made clear he wants every healthy player to prepare to start.

Tennessee has led the NFL in each of the past two seasons for the most players used because of injuries. A combined 137 players have played for the Titans, with Chicago second, using 133.

Tannehill missed five starts last season, pushing Willis into three starts and eight games. Willis was more productive alternating with Levis against Chicago than as a rookie, when he never threw for more than 99 yards in any game.

So, yes, quarterbacks in particular need to be ready at a moment’s notice.

“We want them all to prepare as a starter, be prepared to play the entire game,” Vrabel said.