NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker says nobody ever told him not to try to tackle an opponent after a turnover, and he says hurting his left shoulder will not stop him in the future.
“I thought it was football,” Locker said.
Locker, who played at Washington, got knocked out of his first start in the NFL on Sunday after hurting his left shoulder tackling Patriots safety Patrick Chung at the end of a fumble return early in the fourth quarter, and the Titans wound up losing 34-13.
Locker reached out for Chung and was hurt at the end of a 49-yard return. Chung had picked up the ball forced out by Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo on a 23-yard reception by Nate Washington that left the receiver prone on the field.
The eighth pick overall in the 2011 draft walked to the sideline holding his left arm up against his body. But he quickly was throwing a ball on the sideline while veteran Matt Hasselbeck went into the game after officials overturned the original play as an incompletion. Locker tried to talk his way back onto the field.
“I felt like I could go back in, and I let them know that,” Locker said. “The medical staff made the decision they did.”
Locker said he feels good about being able to play at San Diego next week. He will get treatment for his shoulder and expects a decision whether he needs a brace to be made later in the week. Asked if his shoulder was bruised or if he suffered structural damage, Locker had a quick answer.
“Yeah, don’t say anything like that,” he said.
Locker was 23 of 32 for 229 yards with a touchdown and his first career interception. He also finished as Tennessee’s leading rusher with 11 yards on two carries.
The Titans trailed 28-10 when Locker was hurt. Titans coach Mike Munchak said that played into his decision to stick with Hasselbeck.
“He should be OK for next week,” Munchak said.
The Titans already had lost middle linebacker and defensive captain Colin McCarthy for the second half. He walked to the sideline in the first half with an injured right ankle, and was on the sideline in a walking boot in the second half and not in uniform. McCarthy said after the game he will be fine after simply tweaking his ankle.
Washington took a crunching hit that left him prone on the field while Locker was tackling Chung. The receiver said he was OK as he headed to the training room to get checked out afterward. He said he didn’t know if he suffered a head injury.
“The training staff will assess that, and we’ll go forward from there,” Washington said. “I don’t know anything about that.”