Titans general manager Ruston Webster told LP Field suite holders and coach Mike Munchak told reporters Monday that they were happy with the decision to play Jake Locker a day earlier, and with how the third-year pro performed in his first action since Sept. 29.
Webster told attendees at an appreciation breakfast how determined Locker was to return to the lineup, proclaiming he’d be able to start against San Francisco the week before during a Saturday practice in Seattle. Webster also described the timeline and evaluation process the Titans used to determine how Locker’s sprained hip and knee responded to physical tests during practices and if they would be OK during the game.
“He felt good. He was adamant about playing,” Webster said. “He really wanted to play and that’s just his makeup and the type of guy he is.”
Locker completed 25 of 41 passes for 326 yards with two touchdowns and one interception (his first of the season) for a passer rating of 92.1. He also scrambled three times for 29 yards. Although he took three sacks, the second-year starter protected himself by moving around enough despite wearing a brace that gave his knee additional support.
Munchak said Locker experienced some expected soreness but added “I think he’s very happy he played.”
“He was very accurate early, made some nice throws early. He wants the pick back. That was one of the bad balls he threw, but I thought overall (he was) very competitive,” Munchak said. “I never thought once to take him out of that game. I never once thought it was a bad idea. He’s special that way, and I think that’s why we keep saying when the smoke clears the guy is going to be a winner. We’ve got some work ahead of us this year, but it was a good start for him.”
The alternative of not playing against the 49ers, combined with this week’s bye would have meant a span of more than a month without game competition. The Titans (3-4) return to action by visiting the St. Louis Rams (3-4) Nov. 3.
Former Titans quarterback Neil O’Donnell, who joined Webster at the panel discussion led by Jonathan Hutton of Titans Radio and 104.5 The Zone said a gap that long would make the return more challenging.
“I look at Jake with quarterback’s eyes looking out and I wouldn’t want to miss five weeks because it’s almost like missing the whole preseason and coming back opening day: it’s rusty, you have to adjust to the speed of the game, the timing with the wide receivers,” O’Donnell said. “I thought it was very key that he came back and showed us he was capable of playing. I thought he managed the game pretty well.”
Many Titans players departed for their hometowns or college towns Monday for a quick break, but much of Locker’s bye week will be spent in the training room at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
“He’ll just work his knee, keep going through the rehab, keep getting his leg stronger just like he’d normally do if we were playing,” Munchak said. “He’ll probably get a couple days away from here, which he can do. But he’ll be here. The good thing now is all the ‘Is Jake playing?’ ‘How’s he feeling?’ it’s all behind him now. Now we just, as a team, get ready to beat our next opponent.”
Tags: Jake Locker, LP Field, Mike Munchak, Ruston Webster, Tennessee Titans
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