NFL Wire News

Locker’s time in Tennessee probably over


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Quarterback Jake Locker’s four-year run with the Tennessee Titans is likely over.

Locker was placed on injured reserve Monday due to a left shoulder injury he sustained a day earlier against the New York Jets. He is scheduled to have shoulder surgery Tuesday.

When Locker was drafted with the eighth overall pick in 2011, the Titans viewed him as a franchise quarterback and a refreshing change from his predecessor, Vince Young, because Locker had the intangibles, work ethic and the leadership qualities that proved to be Young’s downfall both with the Titans and in the league.

Locker was the hand-picked choice of then-coach Mike Munchak and soon-to-be general manager Ruston Webster, who had a heavy say in the 2011 draft as Mike Reinfeldt was promoted to team president later that offseason.

For all his good qualities, though, Locker was unable to stay healthy. He came to the Titans with a bit of the reckless reputation that left him banged up and injured during his days at the University of Washington. As a rookie, Locker sat and learned from veteran Matt Hasselbeck and mostly stayed out of harm’s way.

When he was named the starter in 2012, that is when his troubles began. He sustained a shoulder injury in his first game as a starter, trying to make a tackle after an interception against the New England Patriots. Later that year, he failed to account for a blitzer against the Houston Texans and worsened the injury, missing five games before returning again.

The 11 games played by Locker that season proved to be a career high for his tenure in Tennessee.

In 2013, Locker was back as the starter, but then he injured a hip against the Jets, and that cost him two games. When he returned, he sustained a Lisfranc injury to his foot and played in only seven games.

Locker’s future was up in the air when the Titans made sweeping changes this year, hiring Ken Whisenhunt as head coach. And while the Titans declined Locker’s 2015 option of more than $14 million — they really had no choice given his injury history — he was installed as the starter at the beginning of camp this summer.

However, the writing was on the wall when Locker had hand and thumb injuries earlier in 2014, and after it looked as if he were healthy enough to return against the Redskins and Jaguars, he still sat in favor of Charlie Whitehurst. Shortly after that, Locker was benched in favor of Zach Mettenberger, only to get one final chance after Mettenberger sustained a shoulder injury.

Locker got hurt yet again Sunday, and his time in Tennessee probably ended just as many feared it would — with an injury and wondering what could have been.


–PASSING OFFENSE: D-minus — The Titans saw another quarterback get knocked out for the season due to a shoulder injury. This time it was Jake Locker. The previous week, it was Zach Mettenberger who was hurt behind a patchwork offensive line. Charlie Whitehurst threw for 203 yards Sunday, but he finished just 10-for-24.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: F — Shonn Greene had 50 yards rushing to lead the Titans. That doesn’t sound like much, but it is better than what Tennessee produced in recent weeks. The Titans have not run for 100 yards as a team since Oct. 5.

–PASS DEFENSE: F — Tennessee gave up a big gain to WR Eric Decker that set up one touchdown, and a pass-interference penalty on CB Coty Sensabaugh in the end zone kept a New York touchdown drive alive. The Titans allowed two touchdowns by Geno Smith without forcing him to turn the ball over. That tells you all you need to know.

–RUSH DEFENSE: C — A surprising bright spot for most of the day, given that the Titans were last in the league in stopping the run and the Jets came in No. 2 in rushing. Tennessee held old buddy Chris Johnson to 55 yards, though his 37-yard run off a direct snap caught the Titans napping and led to a TD drive.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: F — A fumble by Leon Washington on a free kick after a safety plus a couple of hurtful penalties shifted field position in the game. The special teams are finding ways to contribute regularly to the team’s eight-game losing streak.

–COACHING: F — It is good that the Titans haven’t quit working hard and are still trying, but the game plans and the play-calling are suspect at times for a team that is short-handed and seems unwilling to compensate and change its thinking.

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