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Tennessee Titans Football

A Look at Titans Opponents in 2014: Jets, Chiefs

Posted by Craig Peters on January 2, 2014 – 6:23 pm

The Titans’ second-place finish in the AFC South will pit Tennessee against teams that finished second in the AFC East (New York Jets) and AFC West (Kansas City Chiefs) in 2014. (The schedule of dates will be announced in spring).

Vs. New York Jets

Jake Locker completed 18 of 24 passes for 149 yards and three TDs against the Jets in 2013.

Jake Locker completed 18 of 24 passes for 149 yards and three TDs against the Jets in 2013. Slideshow.

Jets’ 2013 Finish: (8-8); Points For: 290; Points Against: (387); Net: (-97); TDs: 27; Home: 6-2; Away: 2-6; Conf: 5-7; Last 5: 3-2

Jets’ 2013 Rankings: Total Offense (25th, 318.1 yards per game); Total Defense (11th, 334.9)

Titans vs. Jets Overall: (23-17-1); Most Recent: Titans 38, Jets 13 on Sept. 29, 2013

Early Outlook: The Jets have announced that coach Rex Ryan will be back for another year, and it will be the third season in a row that the Jets have traveled to Nashville. Tennessee has won the past two (14-10 in 2012 and 38-13 in 2013). As a rookie, Jets QB Geno Smith had the lowest qualifying passer rating in the NFL (66.5) in large part to his completion percentage of 55.8 and his ratio of 12 TD passes to 21 interceptions. If the Jets go with Smith in 2014, they’ll need him to boost those numbers.

Jake Locker had his best first half as a pro the last time the teams met. He was 18-of-24 passing (75 percent) for 149 yards and three TD passes (career-high passer rating of 130) before suffering knee and hip sprains early in the second half on a hit involving Jets DL Muhammad Wilkerson and LB Quinton Coples. Alterraun Verner had two interceptions of Smith and recovered a fumble forced by Zach Brown, and Karl Klug stripped Smith during a sack and recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

At Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs’ 2013 Finish (11-5); Points For: 430; Points Against: 305; Net (125); TDs: 52; Home: 5-3; Away: 6-2; Conf: 7-5; Last 5: 2-3

Chiefs’ 2013 Rankings: Total Offense (21st, 337.3 yards per game); Total Defense (24th, 367.8)

Titans vs. Chiefs Overall: (20-27); Most Recent: Chiefs 26, Titans 17 at LP Field in 2013; Last time in Kansas City: Chiefs 34, Titans 14 in 2010

Early Outlook: The Chiefs will enter 2014 on the heels of their second playoff season in the past four after improving from 2-14 in 2012 when they had six Pro Bowlers to 11-5 in 2013 when eight players garnered selection to the all-star game. Quarterback Alex Smith and coach Andy Reid will be in their second season in Kansas City, and the Chiefs’ offense is likely to rely heavily on Jamaal Charles, who led the AFC with 1,980 yards from scrimmage. Charles had 1,287 yards on 259 carries (5.0 per attempt) and 693 yards on 70 receptions (9.9 per catch).

The Titans limited Charles to 37 yards on five catches, but the back managed 108 yards and a rushing TD on 22 carries when the teams met in October. Three Titans turnovers — a bad bounce off a punt that was recovered in the end zone and two interceptions — loomed large in that contest. Tennessee rallied from a 13-0 halftime deficit with 17 straight points, including a 49-yard TD by Chris Johnson on a short pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was making his first start as a Titan in place of Jake Locker (hip and knee sprains), in the third quarter and a 9-yard run by Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter.

Both teams entered that game tied for the NFL lead at plus-9 in turnover ratio, but Kansas City finished second in the NFL at plus-18 and Tennessee fell to a tie for 14th at even in the final 12 games.


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First Look: Titans vs. Texans

Posted by Craig Peters on December 24, 2013 – 1:37 am

The Titans (6-9) host the Texans (2-13) on Dec. 29 at LP Field in the regular season finale. Here’s a first glance at the matchup:

Recent action

Tennessee defeated Jacksonville 20-16 on the road last week to record its sixth win of the season and match its total from 2012. The Titans got 91 rushing yards and a touchdown from Shonn Greene, 90 rushing yards from Chris Johnson and six catches for 117 yards and the game-winning score from Nate Washington. Tennessee’s defense held Jacksonville to 85 net yards and three points in the second half to allow the team to rally from a 10-point deficit in the game’s final 24 minutes. Houston fell 37-13 (after trailing 16-13 in the third quarter) in its home finale to Denver. Injuries to Arian Foster and Ben Tate have hurt the Texans’ offense, but the defense is still solid.

Team stat comparisons

Shonn Greene rushed 19 times for 91 yards and a touchdown at Jacksonville.

Shonn Greene rushed 19 times for 91 yards and a touchdown at Jacksonville.

Tennessee’s Offensive Rankings:
Yards/Game: 19th (338.6)
Rushing Yards/Game: 15th (116.2)
Passing Yards/Game: 21st (222.4)
Turnover Ratio: Minus-3 (tied for 18th in NFL)

Houston’s Defensive Rankings:
Yards/Game: 7th (318.0)
Rushing Yards/Game: 24th (120.5)
Passing Yards/Game: 3rd (197.5)
Points Allowed/Game: 26th (27.5)

Tennessee’s Defensive Rankings:
Yards/Game: 15th (341.3)
Rushing Yards/Game: 20th (115.3)
Passing Yards/Game: 10th (225.9)
Points Allowed/Game: 19th (24.7)

Houston’s Offensive Rankings:
Yards/Game: 11th (351.2)
Rushing Yards/Game: 19th (111.9)
Passing Yards/Game: 16th (239.3)
Turnover Ratio: Minus-17 (tied for 31st in NFL)

Series history

The Titans lead 14-9, despite dropping the past three meetings, four of the past six and five of the past eight.

The previous meeting

Houston was able to rally for a 30-24 overtime victory in Week 2 with a touchdown run by Foster, who added a two-point conversion late in regulation, and a TD pass from Matt Schaub to DeAndre Hopkins in overtime.

The Titans took a 24-16 lead with 3:07 remaining in the game after Alterraun Verner returned an interception of Matt Schaub 23 yards for a touchdown. Verner’s “pick 6” followed a nine-play, 99-yard touchdown drive that was capped with a 10-yard pass from Jake Locker to Delanie Walker for a 17-16 lead with 6:37 left in the fourth quarter. Locker also threw a touchdown to Kendall Wright in the first quarter.

Outlook

The Titans are trying to record their second straight win for the second time this season and snap a five-game losing streak at home. Tennessee was pleased with the rushing attack that outgained Jacksonville 182-63 Sunday and wouldn’t mind having another game with nearly a 2:1 run:pass ratio. The Texans have lost 13 in a row but eight of those have been decided by seven points or less. A preseason pick for the Super Bowl by many, Houston is now in contention for the top overall pick in the draft that is awarded to the team with the worst record.

The turnover ratio has loomed the largest for both teams this season. Tennessee is 6-2 when it has a turnover ratio of even or better and 0-7 when it doesn’t. The Texans, meanwhile, are minus-17 in turnover ratio, undermining a defense that ranks seventh in yards allowed, third in passing yards allowed and seventh in opponents’ third down conversion percentage (35.0).


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First Look: Titans at Jaguars

Posted by Craig Peters on December 18, 2013 – 8:16 am

The Titans (5-9) visit the Jaguars (4-10) on Dec. 22 at EverBank Field. Here’s a first glance at the matchup:

Recent action

Tennessee fell 37-34 in overtime against Arizona last week in a game that eliminated it from postseason contention. The Titans scored 17 points in the final 3:12 of regulation to tie the game against the Cardinals but lost in overtime. Ryan Fitzpatrick set career highs in completions (36), attempts (58) and yards (402) and tied a career high with four touchdown passes, and Kendall Wright led receivers with career highs of 12 catches for 150 yards to go over 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his two-year career. The Jaguars lost 27-20 to the Bills Sunday but have won four of six in a stretch that began Nov. 10 at Tennessee.

Team stat comparisons

Ryan Fitzpatrick set career highs in completions (36), attempts (58) and yards (402) against Arizona.

Ryan Fitzpatrick set career highs in completions (36), attempts (58) and yards (402) against Arizona.

Tennessee’s Offensive Rankings:
Yards/Game: 21st (338.1)
Rushing Yards/Game: 20th (111.5)
Passing Yards/Game: 21st (226.6)
Turnover Ratio: Minus-3 (tied for 18th in NFL)

Jacksonville’s Defensive Rankings:
Yards/Game: 28th (381.8)
Rushing Yards/Game: 30th (131.9)
Passing Yards/Game: 19th (249.9)
Points Allowed/Game: tied at 30th (28.5)

Tennessee’s Defensive Rankings:
Yards/Game: 14th (345)
Rushing Yards/Game: 23rd (119.1)
Passing Yards/Game: 10th (225.9)
Points Allowed/Game: tied at 19th (25.4)

Jacksonville’s Offensive Rankings:
Yards/Game: 31st (290.1)
Rushing Yards/Game: 29th (82.5)
Passing Yards/Game: 26th (207.6)
Turnover Ratio: Minus-4 (tied for 21st in NFL)

Series history

The Titans lead 21-17 (including a 33-14 win in the 1999 AFC Championship game on Jan. 23, 2000 at Jacksonville). The teams have split in each of the past four seasons, with Jacksonville claiming the first matchup and Tennessee taking the second in each of the past two seasons.

The previous meeting

The Titans fell behind 13-0 after a fumble by Chris Johnson on the first play from scrimmage of the game that led to a Jaguars touchdown and a pair of field goals by Josh Scobee, one of which followed an interception. Tennessee also lost Jake Locker for the rest of the season to a Lisfranc injury. Locker tried to play through the pain but was unable to complete a handoff to Chris Johnson a play after the injury, resulting in a fumbled exchange between the QB and Johnson in Jaguars territory. Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced Locker and helped the Titans score 20 points in the second half, but Will Blackmon blitzed, stripped the QB and returned the ball 21 yards for a touchdown to help Jacksonville win 29-27.

Outlook

This one is personal to the Titans, who enter the game with five losses in the past six, a streak that began when the teams last met and Tennessee was 4-4. The Titans have been unable to recover from that game in the win column but want to finish the season with a fight. After allowing 28 or more points in six of their first eight games, the Jaguars have allowed 28 points one time in their past six. Jacksonville was outscored 264-86 in its first eight games, but has played even (135 to 135) in its past six.


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First Look: Titans vs. Colts

Posted by Craig Peters on November 12, 2013 – 10:45 am

The Titans (4-5) host the Colts (6-3) on Nov. 14 at LP Field. Here’s a first glance at the matchup:

Recent action

Tennessee lost to the Jaguars 29-27 on Nov. 10, committing four turnovers. QB Jake Locker suffered a season-ending foot injury and will be replaced by veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Indianapolis is coming off a 38-8 home loss to St. Louis. The Colts are 7-0 in weeks following a loss in the past two seasons, including a 27-7 win at San Francisco and a 39-33 win over Denver this year.

Team stat comparisons

Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at QB for the Titans for the third time this season.

Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at QB for the Titans for the third time this season.

Tennessee’s Offensive Rankings:
Yards/Game: 21st (322.9)
Rushing Yards/Game: 13th (111.2)
Passing Yards/Game: 23rd (211.7)
Turnover Ratio: Plus-4 (tied for 9th in NFL)

Indianapolis’ Defensive Rankings:
Yards/Game: 21st (367.8)
Rushing Yards/Game: 26th (126.6)
Passing Yards/Game: 18th (241.2)
Points Allowed/Game: 9th (21.4)

Tennessee’s Defensive Rankings:
Yards/Game 9th (326.2)
Rushing Yards/Game 21st (114.9)
Passing Yards/Game 8th (211.3)
Points Allowed/Game: 10th (21.8)

Indianapolis’ Offensive Rankings:
Yards/Game: 13th (348.1)
Rushing Yards/Game 15th (110.2)
Passing Yards/Game 15th (237.9)
Turnover Ratio Plus-3 (11th)

Series history

The Titans trail 23-14 in 37 meetings (including the 1999 AFC Divisional that Tennessee won). Indianapolis has a three-game win streak in the rivalry that’s included two meetings every year since 2002 when the NFL went to its current division alignment.

The previous meeting

Tennessee built a 13-point lead at halftime, opening with an 80-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Jake Locker to Jared Cook, a pair of field goals by Rob Bironas and a 40 interception return for a touchdown by Will Witherspoon, but lost 27-23.

Indianapolis engineered an 80-yard drive of its own to open the second half that included three third-down conversions (two passes and a 1-yard TD run by Delone Carter), and seized the lead on a 3-yard interception return for a touchdown by Cassius Vaughn.

The Titans moved to the Colts’ 2-yard line but had to settle for another field goal by Bironas to give Tennessee a 23-21 lead four minutes into the fourth quarter, but Indianapolis added a pair of field goals by Adam Vinatieri.

Outlook

This is Tennessee’s first and only scheduled prime-time appearance of 2013, and the fourth time Indianapolis will start a game under the lights this season. The Colts are 2-1 in those games, with a loss at San Diego and wins against Denver and Houston, and are 6-0 in franchise history on NFL Network.

After winning at St. Louis to move to 4-4, Tennessee’s players talked about the importance of defeating Jacksonville last week to make the matchup with the Indianapolis even more important. The Titans received help from the Rams against the Colts last week, but lost to the Jaguars. That outcome, ironically, has made this matchup even more critical. Instead of an opportunity to seize first place in the AFC South, Tennessee needs to win to move within one game of Indianapolis. A loss would put the Titans three back of the Colts with six games to go.

Tennessee has held five of nine opponents to 21 points or less this season. Alterraun Verner is tied for the NFL lead with five interceptions, and Jurrell Casey has a team-best seven sacks.

Fitzpatrick relieved Locker against Jacksonville and had his strongest passing performance of 2013, completing 22 of 33 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a short TD, but lost a fumble that was returned 21 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Kendall Wright leads Titans receivers with 50 catches for 580 yards has one TD.

The Colts are led by second-year QB Andrew Luck, who is 183-for-311 passing for 2,198 yards and 14 TDs against six interceptions (87.5 passer rating) this season. Indianapolis is adjusting to playing without long-time great Reggie Wayne, who suffered a season-ending injury on Oct. 20. T.Y. Hilton leads Colts receivers with 41 catches for 663 yards and five TDs.

Although it executed a trade for Trent Richardson from Cleveland, Indianapolis has struggled to run the football with former first-round pick. He has 88 attempts for 250 yards (2.8 per carry) with two scores. Luck poses a running threat, as well, accounting for 200 yards and three scores on 32 attempts.

Robert Mathis has a career-high and team-best 13.5 sacks this season.


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Verner: It’s Going to be a Battle of Wills Thursday

Posted by Craig Peters on November 11, 2013 – 9:54 am

The good news is the wait for a shot at redemption isn’t too long. The bad news is the opportunity for recovery is incredibly short.

Alterraun Verner nabs his fifth interception of the season against Jacksonville.

Alterraun Verner nabs his fifth interception of the season against Jacksonville.

The Titans (4-5) must prod past becoming the first opponent to lose to the Jaguars (1-8) this season and ready themselves to host AFC South-leading Indianapolis (6-3) on Thursday Night Football. The Colts are coming off a 38-8 home loss Sunday to the St. Louis Rams.

“We’ve got a game right now, and they’re coming off a tough loss, too, so it’s going to be a battle of wills Thursday,” cornerback Alterraun Verner said.

Verner had an interception early in the fourth quarter (his fifth pick this season), but the Titans’ offense settled for a field goal on a drive that began at the Jacksonville 26-yard line and never cleared the hump.

“Any type of negative connotation you can find, probably fits well with this situation. Embarrassing? Definitely. Frustrating? Yes, because it seems like we can’t break through,” Verner said.

Verner equated the missed opportunity to gain ground on Indy as failure to walk through an open door, but injuries suffered by Titans quarterback Jake Locker (foot), center Brian Schwenke (ankle) and receiver/return specialist Damian Williams (leg) made it seem like the door slammed on Tennessee’s fingers.

Those players were scheduled to have more-detailed exams Monday, and the team has not officially elaborated on the severity of the injuries. Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced Locker, Chris Spencer replaced Schwenke and Verner replaced Williams.

Derrick Morgan, who had a sack and three quarterback hits, said the feeling after the game was “sickening.”

“It hurts you to your core. The thing is, we’ve got another game Thursday. That’s the only positive,” Morgan said. “We’ve got a quick turnaround, we’ve got to get re-focused and it’s a must-win for us on Thursday. We’ve got to win out, basically.

“You can’t go in the pit. You can’t go downhill and start breaking away,” Morgan continued. “We’ve got to bond together. The only thing we can do know is keep working because we’ve got seven more games.”


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Fitzpatrick Replaces Injured Locker, Throws TD

Posted by Craig Peters on November 10, 2013 – 1:49 pm

Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped in for Jake Locker (foot injury, questionable to return) with 4:25 remaining in the first half and led the Titans on a scoring drive.

Fitzpatrick was 5-for-5 for 53 yards and a touchdown pass to Taylor Thompson with 41 seconds before halftime. Fitzpatrick faked a handoff to Chris Johnson and rolled to his right, finding the tight end in the end zone. It was the first target and catch of the season for Thompson and first touchdown of his two-year career.

Fitzpatrick opened the drive with a screen to Johnson, which gained 10, but a penalty against Kendall Wright for an illegal block moved the ball back to the Tennessee 48-yard line, where the drive began.

Fitzpatrick connected with Justin Hunter for 11 on the next play, and with Wright for gains of 15 (on third-and-2) and 8 during the eight-play, 52-yard drive that spanned 3:44.

The Titans trailed 13-7 at halftime.


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Jake Locker, Kendall Wright Thriving on Third Down

Posted by Gary Glenn on November 6, 2013 – 6:46 pm

The Titans offense has two of the NFL’s top performers on third down in 2013. Quarterback Jake Locker has a 106.3 passer rating on third down, ranking him third in the league and second in the AFC among qualifying players. On third down, he has completed 39 of 61 passes (63.9 percent) for 426 yards and four touchdowns without throwing an interception.locker-wright110613

Only Carolina’s Cam Newton (120.4 passer rating) and Peyton Manning (112.7) own better passer ratings than Locker on third down this season.

Highest NFL Passer Rating on Third Down in 2013

120.4 – Cam Newton (Panthers)
112.7 – Peyton Manning (Broncos)
106.3 – Jake Locker (Titans)
101.2 – Colin Kaepernick (49ers)
100.8 – Drew Brees (Chargers)
96.8 – Matthew Stafford (Lions)
93.8 – Aaron Rodgers (Packers)
92.4 – Jay Cutler (Bears)
87.6 – Philip Rivers (Chargers)
87.3 – Andrew Luck (Colts)

Meanwhile, wide receiver Kendall Wright ranks second in the NFL and leads the AFC with 18 total receptions on third down. He trails only Tampa Bay’s Vincent Jackson, who has 19 third-down receptions.

Most Receptions on Third Down in 2013

19 – Vincent Jackson (Buccaneers)
18 – Kendall Wright (Titans)
17 – Jordan Cameron (Browns)
17 – Andre Johnson (Texans)
16 – Antonio Brown (Steelers)
16 – Pierre Garcon (Redskins)
16 – A.J. Green (Bengals)
16 – Jeremey Kerley (Jets)
16 – Denarius Moore (Raiders
15 – Anquan Boldin (49ers)


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Blaine Bishop & Kevin Dyson Appear on Special “Titans All Access”

Posted by Craig Peters on November 1, 2013 – 7:11 pm

Titans/Oilers greats Blaine Bishop and Kevin Dyson joined “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith for a special edition of Titans All Access that will air the weekend of Nov. 1-3.

Titans/Oilers greats Blaine Bishop and Kevin Dyson join "Voice of the Titans" Mike Keith to tape a special episode of "Titans All Access."

Titans/Oilers greats Blaine Bishop and Kevin Dyson join “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith to tape a special episode of “Titans All Access.”

Keith discussed multiple aspects for how the Titans’ current season has gone, as well as other NFL trends, with the members of the 1999 AFC Championship team that appeared in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Bishop, a four-time Pro Bowl safety, said he’s liked what he’s seen from the free agents that Tennessee signed to improve its defense and has enjoyed the return of Gregg Williams to the coaching staff as a senior assistant.

“They’re just flying around, showing signs of what we used to have, one of those great defenses the years I played,” Bishop said. “They’re real close to being at an elite level defensive team and they’re right there on the cusp.”

One of the most interesting additions, Bishop said, is defensive end Ropati Pitoitua, who is tied for the team lead with four sacks (a career high).

“He’s stopping the running game,” Bishop said. “He’s making pressure on the quarterback, and I think that’s making it easier for the guys in the secondary to cover and the whole defense is playing a lot better.”

Dyson, a first-round selection in the 1998 NFL Draft who scored on the Music City Miracle, said he’s been pleased with the development of Jake Locker. Dyson and Bishop said Locker’s toughness reminds them of their teammate, the late Steve McNair.

“I love the progression he’s going through. I think they’ve done some things to help him out: give him some stationary targets,” Dyson told Keith. “He’s not getting a lot of moving routes. He’s doing some things there, but the biggest thing is players believe in him and have a trust in him. That’s the biggest difference, regardless of the skillset. You can tell a difference when he’s in there.”


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Titans Ready to Return to Action

Posted by Craig Peters on November 1, 2013 – 6:32 pm

The Titans aren’t quite where they wanted to be through seven games, but they believe they can still get to where they want to go.

The Titans hope to return to the win column when they return to action after last week's bye and halt a three-game losing streak.

The Titans hope to return to the win column when they return to action after last week’s bye and halt a three-game losing streak.

After starting 3-1, Tennessee has lost its past three games to teams that are a combined 21-3 through eight weeks. The Titans (3-4) visit the St. Louis Rams (3-5) Sunday, starting a three-game span against opponents that are 8-15 through eight weeks.

By no means will the Titans expect an easy win in any of their nine remaining regular season games, but results suggest the road may be less difficult than it has been.

The Titans have played the third-toughest schedule in the NFL through eight weeks, with seven opponents combining for a total of 33 wins and 20 losses for a winning percentage of .623. Only AFC South foes Jacksonville (.705 win percentage) and Houston (.642 win percentage) have faced tougher slates this season.

“We knew coming into the season it wasn’t going to be easy and we’ve faced a little adversity with losing three weeks,” cornerback Jason McCourty said. “Now, it’s time for us to turn it around. We’ve got a chance to go home, get our minds clear and now it’s all about football, so I’m excited to see what we do in this upcoming week.”

The Titans’ remaining opponents are 29-39, and only Indianapolis (5-2) and Denver (7-1) have winning records through eight weeks.

“Everything we planned to do this season is still out there so there’s no reason for our confidence to have waivered,” McCourty said. “We can still get done everything we want to get done so we just have to continue to come together as a team.”

After visiting the Rams, the Titans will host Jacksonville (0-8) on Nov. 10 and Indianapolis on Nov. 14 before three straight road games: Oakland on Nov. 24, Indy on Dec. 1 and Denver on Dec. 8. Tennessee will follow that by hosting Arizona (4-4) on Dec. 15, visiting Jacksonville Dec. 22 and hosting Houston (2-5) on Dec. 29. The Texans are trying to snap a five-game losing streak when they host the Colts Sunday night.

Titans QB Jake Locker, who returned to the lineup Oct. 20 after suffering hip and knee sprains on Sept. 29, said the team is encouraged by the upcoming opportunities.

“You look at where we sit in our division, and we’re not where we want to be,” Locker said. “We’re 3-4 and we think we could have a few more wins but we don’t, but in the grand scheme of things we’re two games back and we have an opportunity to play that team twice before the end of the year.”


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Titans Encouraged by Jake Locker’s Return

Posted by Craig Peters on October 22, 2013 – 12:28 am

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.

The Titans think Jake Locker's ability to return to the lineup against San Francisco will help the QB when the team resumes action Nov. 3 at St. Louis.

The Titans think Jake Locker’s ability to return to the lineup against San Francisco will help the QB when the team resumes action Nov. 3 at St. Louis.

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.”


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