Tennessee Titans quarterback Joshua Dobbs will make his first career NFL start in Thursday’s game against the visiting Dallas Cowboys, multiple media outlets reported.
Dobbs reportedly is getting the nod over rookie Malik Willis for Tennessee, which is without starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill due to an ankle injury.
As for the Cowboys (11-4), NFL Network reported running back Tony Pollard is expected to be inactive for Thursday’s contest. Pollard has been unable to participate in practice all week due to a thigh injury.
The Titans (7-8) can improve their record but risk injury while gaining no ground in playoff positioning until the Jan. 8 winner-take-all AFC South showdown with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Even if the Jaguars beat the Houston Texans on Sunday to improve to 8-8, and should Tennessee lose Thursday, the division title would still be on the line when the teams meet head-to-head.
Dobbs, 27, was signed by the Titans off the Detroit Lions’ practice squad on Dec. 21. He began the season with the Cleveland Browns, who parted ways with him after Deshaun Watson joined the roster following his 11-game suspension.
He appeared in six games with the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2018 and 2020 seasons, completing 10 of 17 passes for 45 yards with one interception.
Dobbs returns to the state where he played in college at Tennessee from 2013-16 and threw for more than 7,000 yards.
Willis, 23, completed just 14 of 23 passes for 99 yards and two interceptions in Tennessee’s 19-14 loss to the Houston Texans last Saturday. He is completing just 50.8 percent of his passes for 276 yards with three picks in eight games this season.
Pollard, 25, sits 12 rushing yards shy of 1,000 for the season. Teammate Ezekiel Elliott has 829 yards and 11 touchdowns, including scores in eight consecutive games.
Pollard has a team-leading 12 total touchdowns (nine rushing, three receiving). The 2022 Pro Bowl selection was limited to nine carries for 19 yards last week, when the Cowboys rallied to beat the Philadelphia Eagles, and McCarthy said Malik Davis would see more reps in this week’s prep sessions.
Davis has 23 carries for 103 yards and one touchdown in 10 games this season.
Dallas is the top wild-card team in the NFC and maintains the slimmest hope of catching Philadelphia in the East division.
The Cowboys can win the NFC East if the Eagles lose their final two games and Dallas beats the Titans and Washington Commanders. Philadelphia (13-2) locks up the division and home-field advantage throughout conference playoffs with a victory Sunday against the New Orleans Saints (6-9).