Locker patiently waits his turn

Cam Newton was the starter in Carolina almost from the moment he signed.

Jake Locker has made just one appearance in a mop-up role thus far as a rookie.

Andy Dalton has done well enough in Cincinnati that the Bengals are a surprising 4-2.

Blaine Gabbert recently took over in Jacksonville, and this week, Christian Ponder will make his first start for Minnesota.

Of the first five quarterbacks taken in the 2011 draft last April, only one is still watching and waiting – Jake Locker.

But for all the early baptisms that are under way for this year's rookie quarterbacks, Locker insists that he is fine with sitting and learning at the feet of veteran Matt Hasselbeck, who is in many ways off to the best start of his 13-year NFL career. Hasselbeck's play has been so good that even Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak admitted Thursday he has been better than even they expected.

So where does that leave Locker, the prized rookie chosen with the eighth overall pick?

Waiting, watching, learning and making sure he is ready when the opportunity does come his way. Not wondering what might have been had he joined a more quarterback-needy team.

“I said going into the draft that I was going to make the most of whatever opportunity I was given, and I'm very thankful to have the opportunity that I have here. And I believe it's one that's gonna benefit me tremendously in the long run,” Locker said. “I'm not resentful that I didn't get a different situation. I'm happy to be here.”

For Locker, this is the first time since he was a freshman in high school that he has not been his team's starting quarterback. And even that season, he was a star defensive back in his native Ferndale, Wash. So how is he handling that?

“The reality is you're one play away,” Locker said. “I don't think at any point that you're just sitting and watching. If you're doing that, you're wrong. I think you have to take the approach that you may have the opportunity to play every weekend, and you've got to be prepared for that.”

In the meantime, he learns everything he can from Hasselbeck, whom he already knew from their time together in the state of Washington when Locker was at the University of Washington and Hasselbeck with the Seattle Seahawks.

Locker says the veteran is imparting all sorts of advice and valuable tidbits on being an NFL quarterback.

“Little things are the biggest difference, things you don't get in the meeting room or talk about all the time,” Locker said. “Mannerisms, little tricks with the snap count, little tricks with your reads, little tricks with your eyes – anything that you can use to get an advantage over your opponent.”

For his part, Hasselbeck says he is just being himself in imparting knowledge.

“I just try to be me, and that's it. But I do try to share things with Jake and with Rusty (Smith),” Hasselbeck said. “Some of it is the way I take notes, some of it is the way I study. Some of it is stuff I've come up with on my own, some of it I stole from other quarterbacks. If it works for them, great. If it doesn't, that's fine too. But in particular, note taking and the way you study film.”

And while others in his draft class are told to sink or swim on the field as rookies, Locker is immersed in studying.

“Those are things that benefit you at this level, because here everybody is good,” he said.

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