"It's all good," the University of Washington's senior quarterback said with a chuckle Monday afternoon, then laid his hand back on the table in front of him.
And with that, a possible conundrum that faced the UW football team this week was a case closed. Locker's bruised non-throwing hand, which was hurt during the second half of Saturday's win over Syracuse, appears to be a non-issue heading into this weekend's game against sixth-ranked Nebraska.
Head coach Steve Sarkisian said that Locker would practice all week and added: "I'd worry if I asked him to throw a pass left-handed this weekend, but we're not going to do that. We'll be OK."
Locker suffered the injury in the third quarter of Saturday's game. Sarkisian said the quarterback inadvertently hit the back of his hand on an opponent's helmet. Locker stayed in the game for two more series before giving way to backup Keith Price because the Huskies had a seemingly insurmountable lead at that point of the game.
Locker practiced Monday afternoon without any noticeable limitations. His left hand, as he eagerly showed reporters earlier in the day, had no visible swelling or discoloration two days after he suffered the injury.
"No problems at all," the senior quarterback said. "It's fine.''
Kearse making noise
Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse ranks third in the country in receiving yards per game (143.5) after a breakout performance against Syracuse over the weekend. He caught nine passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns.
But was it enough to bring out the braggadocio in UW's soft-spoken wideout? Hardly.
"Against Syracuse, I think I had a pretty good game," Kearse said during Monday's interview sessions.
Locker said his go-to receiver seemed more focused last week after dropping three passes in the opener.
"Jermaine took it upon himself to really come out and be dominant this weekend, and he was," Locker said. "It was really, really fun to watch. He expects a lot out of himself, and I think you were able to see that this Saturday."
Coming back to haunt him
For the second time in three weeks, Sarkisian will face a freshman quarterback whom he recruited.
Nebraska's Taylor Martinez was a standout quarterback in Southern California when Sarkisian tried to recruit him -- first to USC, and then to UW -- before the 2009 school year. Sarkisian attended the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) state title game in which Martinez led his Corona Centennial High team to a victory over Northern California powerhouse De La Salle.
Now in his second year at Nebraska, the redshirt freshman beat out returning starter Zac Lee and currently ranks seventh in the nation in rushing yards per game (142.0). Only Michigan's Denard Robinson has more rushing yards among quarterbacks.
Ten days ago, Sarkisian and the Huskies opened against a Brigham Young team that featured a co-starting quarterback named Jake Heaps. The true freshman from Skyline High School in Sammamish chose BYU over Sarkisian's Huskies last fall.
Running back Johri Fogerson (hip) continues to sit out practices, but Sarkisian is hopeful he'll be available for Saturday's game against Nebraska. The coach is also hopeful that wide receiver James Johnson (ankle) can make a bigger impact in the offense this week. Sarkisian said that freshman safety Sean Parker is likely to continue returning kickoffs alongside classmate Kevin Smith. Running back Chris Polk started the season as the primary kickoff return man, but injuries at the tailback position were a factor in the coaches looking elsewhere for returners. Polk took Monday's practice off for a routine day of rest. He was one of three UW tailbacks who did not practice Monday, joining Fogerson and true freshman Deontae Cooper. After having surgery to repair two torn ligaments last week, Cooper was back on the sidelines watching practice Monday.
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