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Locker calm as first start nears

Jake Locker says that while his responsibility has certainly changed, the way he approaches things won't as he prepares to make the first NFL regular-season start of his career.

“The preparation isn't much different. It's a little different feeling knowing you're starting the game, but the preparation doesn't change,” said Locker, who beat out Matt Hasselbeck in preseason to become the Tennessee Titans starting quarterback.

Locker, the Titans first-round pick a year ago, admits Sunday's game against the New England Patriots is something he has dreamed of for a long time – ever since he was a kid.

“I think from the time you're a little kid (you dream of this),” Locker said. “I've always been a football fan and I've run through that scenario time and time again, pretending I was there.”

The fact that his first start comes against Tom Brady and the Patriots would seem to raise the stakes considerably, though Locker tries not to see it that way.

“I think your goals are to play well no matter who you're playing. I don't think there's any added emphasis because it's New England,” he said.

But Locker admits he has plenty of respect for Brady, the future Hall of Famer with three Super Bowl rings. Brady was in his second year when he made his first NFL start too. For a little perspectiv, Locker would have been a seventh-grader then, back in 2001.

“I think the cool thing about Tom Brady is how he got to where he is. He took advantage of the opportunity he was given. He didn't just come in and it was given to him. He was behind (Drew) Bledsoe, who was one of best quarterbacks in their franchise,” Lcoker said. “(Bledsoe) got hurt, and when he went down, (Brady) took advantage of his opportunity, and he has never let go of it. I've got a lot of respect for him in how he got to where he is and for how he continues to improve and work.

“He's passionate about the game, you can tell, and he plays the game the right way and he's fun to watch.”

Speaking of fun, that's what Locker says he wants his first start on Sunday to be. As nervous as he might be inside going against the defending AFC champs, Locker is putting things in to proper perspective as his career embarks.

“I just want to go out and have fun. The great part about the game of football is that, although you might be playing it at the highest level, the rules are still the same, the field is still the same size and you're playing with the same amount of guys, and it's a game that's meant to be fun,” Locker said. “You put in all the hard work and you're going through how you want to do this during the week, and when you get the opportunity to go out on Sunday, you simply have fun and enjoy it.”

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