ATLANTA _ Jake Locker may have showed a glimpse of what the future holds for the Tennessee Titans in Sunday's 23-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
The rookie came off the bench, and in his first extended playing time since the preseason, rallied the Titans to two late scores, making what had been a blowout game within reach of victory had the beleaguered Tennessee defense been able to come up a stop in the fourth quarter.
Locker, who replaced the injured Matt Hasselbeck in the third quarter in a 23-3 game, wound up 9 of 19 for 140 yards with two scores.
“It was a lot of fun,” said the rookie from the University of Washington. “I would have liked a better outcome, but it was just fun to get out there and compete. … I felt comfortable with what we were doing. We were able to kind of go out in the two-minute and just play backyard football. Guys ran some good routes and made some good plays.”
Locker did more than compete, directing a pair of touchdown drives, tossing a 40-yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington with two minutes to play in the third quarter and a 4-yarder to Washington with 3:06 left in the game.
“Like I told you in the beginning, I've just done my best to prepare as well as I could for when that opportunity came, so I could take advantage of it,” Locker said.
Teammates saw how the rookie was not in awe of the circumstances he had been thrust into.
“He did exactly what we thought he would. He's been learning a great deal from Matt and Coach (Chris) Palmer both,” Washington said. “They've been making sure he's been on point with his reads and his assignments he has at quarterback, and it showed today. Unfortunately, Matt got hurt, but it shows he's been learning a lot.”
Locker had command of the huddle when he came into the game, said tackle Mike Otto.
“He came in with no fear in his eyes or anything. He stepped up and he played really well for us and gave us a chance at the end. He came in and commanded and got the plays out, made the right calls. He played well,” Otto said.
Quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains also liked what he saw from his prized pupil in his first meaningful regular-season action.
“I'm proud of him. I'm happy with how he performed with the way he fought and clawed and actually gave us a chance to get back in it,” Loggains said. “At the point where Matt couldn't go, we felt comfortable putting Jake in and he did a nice job of making plays.
“Obviously, there were some mistakes out there, but he kind of jumpstarted us and gave us a little spark. The No. 1 thing you see is his ability to extend the play and scramble around and make throws.”
Depending upon how Hasselbeck's elbow is, Locker could be on track to make his first NFL start next Sunday against Tampa Bay.