The timeline for Jake Locker’s return will be less about mentality and more about mobility.
In the mind of the third-year quarterback and second-year starter, he’s preparing like he’s going to play, the same way he’s prepped the past two weeks when he was clearly not going to play.
“I think mentally that’s important so you don’t ever lose that edge,” Locker said Thursday. “You prepare like you’re going to play, and I’m doing nothing different this week.”
Locker participated in drills Wednesday and did more Thursday, taking snaps in 11-on-11 and testing his mobility. The Titans also want to see how his body responds, and coach Mike Munchak is waiting to make a decision on Locker’s availability for Sunday when Tennessee (3-3) hosts San Francisco (4-2) at LP Field.
“I just wanted to get in and do everything I could every day to get better and try to get back on the field as soon as possible. That’s what I’ve tried to do and my body has responded well,” Locker said. “There’s certain things that don’t feel normal yet, but I’m feeling pretty good, and every day I’m trying to progress with that stuff. There’s just new things each day and seeing what feels good and where my comfort level is with it.”
Locker has worn a large brace on his leg the past two days, which has given him confidence in his right hip and knee that were sprained on Sept. 29.
Titans coach Mike Munchak increased the simulated stress around Locker during Thursday’s practice to get a more accurate assessment for how he’s progressing.
“He did more individually and (we) pushed him more (Thursday), had him moving more, and those types of things,” Munchak said. “It’s kind of wait and see really where he’s at. We don’t want to ever say he can’t do anything, so we’ll just wait until (Friday) and see.”
The return to that much activity has provided an encouraging lift for Titans players and coaches, who have dropped the past two games.
“It’s good to see him back on the field and able to move around and do some things, so that gives us excitement with where he’s going,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “He’s a tough kid, a strong-minded kid and we’re excited about getting him back out here.”
Receiver Nate Washington said as soon as doctors learned Locker hadn’t suffered structural damage, “I knew he was going to be back out there in no time. He’s a fighter, a guy that takes pride in his work.”
Loggains said it was obvious how much Locker wanted to play at Seattle last week because it was so close to Locker’s hometown of Ferndale, Wash.
The Titans have their bye next week, which would allow that much more time to re-establish the rhythm Locker was developing with receivers.
As much as Locker wants to return this week, he said he’d temper that by being “honest with (coaches and trainers) and tell them how I’m feeling and how my body feels, some of the limitations I might have. I think honesty is always the best.”
Tags: Jake Locker, LP Field, Mike Munchak, Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans
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