By John Boyle
When the 2013 schedule was released last spring, this week’s game looked like it would mark the return of Jake Locker to Seattle, where he was the quarterback for the University of Washington from 2007 to 2010. Instead, the Titans will still be playing the Seahawks, but Locker will be a spectator thanks to the hip injury he suffered against the Jets two weeks ago.
“It’s tough,” Locker said on a conference call Wednesday. “I was really looking forward to having the opportunity to play there and be able to play in front of family and friends at stuff. It’s hard.”
Not only is the injury tough for Locker because he wanted the chance to play at home, it also came right when it looked like he and the Titans were starting to turn things around. As Tennessee’s starter last year, Locker was limited to 11 games because of a shoulder injury and when healthy, his numbers were rather pedestrian (56.4 percent completion percentage, 10 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a passer rating of 74.0), and the Titans finished the year with a 6-10 record.
This season, however, Locker’s numbers have been significantly better, and the Titans started the year 3-1 before losing last week with backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick playing for Locker. Locker’s completion percentage is up to 62.2 percent and in three-plus games he threw six touchdowns with no interceptions.
“I felt really confident, we were playing really well on offense, kind of catching our stride, and we were doing some things pretty good,” Locker said. “… There’s a difference in what we’re doing offensively. The mindset of everybody on this side of the ball is a little bit different this year, and it’s another year of work we’ve been able to put in together.”
Locker also said it helped that, for the first time, he spent an entire offseason as the Titans starter: “Definitely. Just from the standpoint of being able to work with the same guy day in and day out through OTAs, through minicamps, through camp, I got to throw to the same guys every day and really build a comfort level with them and a confidence with them, and that’s how I felt playing.”
As for that injury, Locker said his hip is improving, and that he’s mostly off crutches.
“It’s good,” he said. “Not good enough to be able to be talking to you guys about a game plan this week.
“They want me to be on (crutches) still if I’m standing for a long period of time, but for the most part walking around the facility and stuff, I have gotten rid of them. Timeline, for me I’m just trying to get back as quickly as I can, so I’m not paying too much attention to timelines that have been thrown out there. I feel good and I just want to continue to progress and get back on the field as soon as I can.”