Another day, and another day closer to Jake Locker being back at quarterback for the Tennessee Titans?
Locker increased his reps on Thursday to do more in teams drills, and though neither Locker nor Coach Mike Munchak will commit to him being under center on Sunday, the odds do seem to be somewhat increasing as the quarterback comes back from a sprained hip and sprained MCL.
Neither was tipping the Titans' hand about Locker being able to play Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
“I'm preparing like I'm gonna play. I've prepared the last two weeks like I'm gonna play,” Locker said.
The Titan increased Locker's workload on Thursday and tried to simulate
game-type situations for him as much as possible, with out allowing him to be hit, of course.
“He took reps, more reps. He didn’t do a whole lot yesterday, so he did more today. He split some of the reps in some of the periods, so he did a lot more on the side, moving around, moving him out of the pocket, scrambling, and doing things like that—that’s more of some of the things that could come up in a game,” Munchak said. “You can’t work on everything, obviously. We’re not going to have him get hit or anything, but just having people around his legs, part of the pass rush, doing those types of things is always good for a quarterback.”
Locker agreed, saying, “Getting in in team stuff and working in in practice, I think it's important to feel comfortable in the pocket an feeling comfortable with guys rushing around you.”
Munchak did say that Locker has been medically cleared for contact, though.
“He’s cleared. I mean, he can play. Medically, I can, I assume, do everything he’s capable of doing. It’s just a matter of can he do that? Is he quite ready yet with his body?” Munchak said. “There’s no doubt the more you rest, the more you take off, the stronger your leg’s going to feel, your knee, in time. It doesn’t mean you can’t play in the meantime. I think it’s more of seeing, like we said, as we put him through things he hasn’t done in a few weeks, how his body responds, and that’s kind of what we’re doing now.”
There are those in the Titans organization who believe that Locker possesses the same type of toughness that Steve McNair exhibited in being able to play with pain and battle through injuries. It sounds as if Munchak is a subscriber to that notion as well.
“That’s one good thing about him—he’s a guy that has unfortunately been hurt, but he heals usually ahead of schedule. He definitely loves the game, definitely wants to be part of it, doesn’t want to miss it,” Munchak said. “These last two weeks have really been hard for him, so I think he’s going to do everything he can to put himself in a situation where he’s ready to play.”
Friday will be a big day for Locker to see if he can continue to progress and show the Titans he is capable of handling and protecting himself and can play as he works through his injuries.
“We’ll consider anything, but we’ll wait until tomorrow because that’s a lot of ifs. He did more today individually and (we) pushed him more today, 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 tomorrow and see.”
Locker said he is progressing well, though certain things aren't quite yet back to normal, including getting used to a protective brace.
“My leg as a whole is feeling pretty good. (The brace) helps me out. I'm comfortable from that standpoint. It's something you just get used to and it's something that gives me confidence. There's certain things that don't feel normal yet, but I'm feeling pretty good and every day I'm trying to progress,” Locker said.