NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Chris Johnson looks around the Tennessee Titans and sees an untapped run threat. Not Shonn Greene, though he expects the running back to be a big help too.
Try quarterback Jake Locker.
Johnson said Thursday athletic quarterbacks have made teams like Carolina with Cam Newton, Washington with Robert Griffin III and Seattle with Russell Wilson difficult to defend. Colin Kaepernick helped lead San Francisco to the NFC title with his legs too, and Johnson said he thinks Locker can help out the Titans a lot.
"He hasn't really had time to show what he can really do, and I feel like this year he will," Johnson said of Locker.
The Titans loved Locker for both his arm and his legs coming out of Washington as the No. 8 pick overall in 2011. Locker set school records at Washington where he ran for 1,939 yards in his career with his 29 career touchdowns third all-time for all players. But the quarterback got hurt in the season opener a year ago and ran only 41 times for 291 yards in 2012. Still, Locker averaged 7.1 yards per carry when he took off.
It's that mobility that has Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin paying close attention with the Titans visiting the Steelers for the season opener Sunday. Locker missed the Titans' win over Pittsburgh last October, one of the five games the quarterback sat out with his injured shoulder.
"I'm really impressed by his mobility, his accuracy on the move that he has displayed in the preseason," Tomlin said of Locker. "We have some concerns about containing him. Obviously, when you watch those plays both in the preseason and late last year, his mobility and his escapability is a part of that they do both by design and by ad lib. That is something you have to be concerned about if you are around defense."
New Titans tight end Delanie Walker got to watch Kaepernick while with the 49ers last season. Walker said he thinks people overlook Locker's ability to run, which could be an advantage for the quarterback.