As expected, Jake Locker's foot injury will sideline him for the remainder of the Tennessee Titans season.
The injury, suffered in Sunday's dreadful 29-27 loss to Jacksonville, has the Titans now once again turning to backup Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback and wondering if Locker can stay healthy enough to become the franchise quarterback they envision him to be.
With Monday's news that Locker will miss the final seven games of the year with a lis franc injury that still potentially could need surgery, it means that the 2011 first-round draft choice will have missed 14 of a possible 32 games in his first two seasons as the Titans starting quarterback.
“He's your quarterback. He's the guy we thought would be here for a long time and that still may work out,” said Titans coach Mike Munchak, who made the announcement during his Monday press conference. “Right now, it's disappointing last year and this year that he wasn't able to finish the season and really find out what kind of team we have and where what kind of team we could become on offense especially. So it's hard for him. I know how depressed he is, I know how hard this hurt him and our team. I mean he's a fighter. I know all that and ... we're just concentrating on these seven weeks. That's all we're concerned about. Next year is next year. Right now we just got to go forward and try to win a game.”
The Titans play host to the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night at LP Field, still shellshocked at losing to the previously winless Jacksonville Jaguars. The onus falls on Fitzpatrick, who has struggled when called upon in previous games this season.
“Ryan knows he's got to play. We need him to step up. He's gonna be the starting quarterback from now on because Jake is out for the year, so Ryan has no choice but to play good. I feel like he did a great job against the Jaguars. This is his opportunity to be the man now,” said tight end Delanie Walker.
Long-term, the Titans are forced to play what-if again with Locker's status as their present and future franchise quarterback.
“It's very disappointing. It's hard on the team like we talked about when we were 3-1, we felt he was really coming into his own and the team was coming together, becoming his. And then the injury. And we kind of like we all know we kind of struggled after that at that point more so than we thought we would on offense especially,” Munchak said. “We got him back but again didn't think he was 100 percent comfortable yet, and we thought that would be coming here in the next eight weeks. To lose him now is a huge blow. I mean you watch any team that loses their quarterback it's a big effect on the team, and losing him, losing the center in the first quarter ... it made it hard.”
Center Brian Schwenkie (ankle) and receiver Damian Williams (hip/quad) are both day-to-day and might miss Thursday night's game as well.
Linebacker Moise Fokou is still recovering from a knee injury, and tackle David Stewart could play this week after missing two games with a shoulder injury.