Locker ready to make 1st NFL start at Tampa Bay

Associated Press  |  Last updated August 16, 2012
Jake Locker finally makes his first NFL start Friday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he's definitely looking forward to something he expects to be a lot of fun. The Tennessee Titans just hope he plays well enough to make take the decision on their starting quarterback out of their hands. ''We're running out of time,'' coach Mike Munchak said. ''It's funny how we talked about it back in April or May saying, `Well, geez, we've got three or four months,' and now the season's getting close. I think we feel good about it. I think we'll make that decision around next weekend, a couple days after this game.'' Munchak opened the competition in January between Locker, the eighth pick overall in 2011 out of Washington, and veteran Matt Hasselbeck, who led Tennessee to an unexpected 9-7 record last season. The Titans have been splitting the work in practice between the quarterbacks, and now it's Locker's turn for a start in the second preseason game. Locker said the move to give him his start isn't as big a decision as it might seem, and he sees it simply as an extension of the rotation coaches have done from practice to practice and even in series. ''It's great to have the opportunity,'' Locker said. Locker has been impressive to date coming off the bench. He threw for 542 yards and four touchdowns while running for another score in five games as a rookie, and he was 7 of 13 for 80 yards again following Hasselbeck into the game against a mixture of Seattle's starters and backups in a 27-17 loss last week on the road. His mobility and leadership are considered his biggest advantages. The sooner the Titans make a decision, then Locker would have more time to become comfortable in the job before the season opener Sept. 9 against New England. That's why the Titans (No. 21 in the AP Pro32 rankings) want to see how Locker handles knowing he's the starter for nearly a week along with how he plays against Tampa Bay (1-0, No. 26). ''Even though it's preseason, how he does these next three games will tell us what to do,'' Munchak said. Locker has supporters who want the Titans to let him learn and grow on the job, letting the quarterback of the future get much-needed experience now. Hasselbeck was intercepted twice in that preseason opener in Seattle, completing five of nine passes for 45 yards. But Hasselbeck is coming off his 13th NFL season that was one of the best of his career. He threw for 3,571 yards with an 82.4 passer rating along with 18 TDs and 14 interceptions. Teammates have been staying neutral while the competition plays itself out. ''At the end of the day, I don't think we'll take a step backward with whoever is the starter,'' running back Chris Johnson said. Hasselbeck recalled his first start in an exhibition against Denver, a start he learned about only when he saw Brett Favre come out during warm-ups and pull up his jersey to show Hasselbeck that he wasn't wearing his rib padding. Hasselbeck said Locker will remember this start for the rest of his life as his first start, and the veteran isn't piling on any advice. ''He's doing a great job, and he's focused and he's got a head coach and an offensive coordinator and a quarterback coach coaching him up,'' Hasselbeck said. ''Sometimes you can get too much info. I'm definitely available and a resource and all that. He's getting good coaching.'' The key for the Titans is they know what they already have in Hasselbeck with what Munchak calls a ''big track record.'' That's why the coaches want to see more of Locker. ''There are so many things you look into when you're trying to make a decision about a quarterback when it's not an obvious decision, when you have two players you feel you can win with, which is a good problem to have,'' Munchak said. ''But again, we still want to let it play out a little bit to where you feel comfortable that you're doing the right thing.'' --- Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Belichick officially updates boat’s name to ‘VII Rings’

Canseco warns humanity about robot takeover in Twitter rant

Rick Ankiel drank vodka before pitching in 2000 NLDS

Kings throw shade at Cousins in press release announcing trade

Report: Jets tampered with Revis through private phones, secret meetings

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Calipari shoots down talk of him leaving Kentucky for Pelicans

Report: Carmelo prefers trade to Clippers or Lakers

Report: Kings blowing up roster, putting Darren Collison, Ben McLemore on block

Russell Westbrook's beef with Kevin Durant might not be over after all

Giants could use franchise tag on Jason Pierre-Paul

Two-time Le Mans winner felt he had to hide homosexuality

The guard tandems you'd want in a 2-on-2 tournament

We got our hands on the new Nintendo Switch, here are our first impressions

Top 10 second basemen in baseball for 2017

Teams and players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Too much to Process: Can Simmons match the Embiid hype?

There will never be another Dirk Nowitzki

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

Is the NBA All-Star Game worth saving?

Movies you can stream now to get your football fix

The Rewind: Michael Jordan's last All-Star Game

Best of Yardbarker: NBA All-Star Games past, present and future

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The guard tandems you'd want in a 2-on-2 tournament

We got our hands on the new Nintendo Switch, here are our first impressions

Top 10 second basemen in baseball for 2017

Teams, players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher with 200 or more wins since 1961

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

There will never be another Dirk Nowitzki

Movies you can stream now to get your football fix

Is the NBA All-Star Game worth saving?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker