Locker learning but not winning like other rookies
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Andrew Luck and RG3 are winning. Russell Wilson, too — and they're all NFL rookies.
Jake Locker is in his second season, and his 2-5 record as a starter comes nowhere near the success some of this season's young quarterbacks are enjoying.
The Tennessee Titans are not worried.
Coach Mike Munchak says his quarterback takes blame for his mistakes and works hard not to make the same one twice. They love his toughness, and Munchak says he's been around quarterbacks not as willing to accept responsibility when plays go wrong.
"I think our team needs to take a step, it's not necessarily just him," Munchak said Wednesday.
Locker, who sat behind Matt Hasselbeck in 2011 as a rookie and missed five games this season due to injury, finally makes the first of what the Titans (4-8) hope are many starts against Luck and the Colts (8-4) on Sunday. He is coming off his worst start yet with five turnovers — two fumbles and three interceptions — along with being sacked six times in a 24-10 loss to Houston.
Watching film of that game wasn't nearly as bad as Locker feared.
"You watch the turnovers, it wasn't guys doing the wrong things. It wasn't going the wrong place with the ball," Locker said. "Balls got tipped, and guys made plays. If it doesn't get tipped and gets through, we've got guys wide open to catch passes for us. From that standpoint, it's kind of encouraging almost."
As a rookie, Locker played in five games coming off the bench in a season when Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder got to start and had success. The Titans named Locker their starter this August, and he wound up missing almost as many games as he's played this season after dislocating his left, non-throwing shoulder twice in the first four games.
Locker returned Nov. 11 and led the Titans to a 37-3 win at Miami. Since then, the eighth pick overall in 2011 out of Washington has struggled with five of his seven interceptions along with seven of the 11 sacks he's taken coming in the past two games — both losses.
Against Houston, he was incomplete on seven straight passes early only to settle down in the second half. The Titans outgained Houston 210-110 in the second half and had chances to make it a game with Locker also using his legs. But he had a 28-yard run to midfield wiped out by a penalty.
Locker ranks second on the team in rushing behind only Chris Johnson, averaging 7.7 yards on 21 rushes for 162 yards. That mobility is a key for Locker, who Indianapolis interim coach Bruce Arians said was more natural on the move coming out of school.