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Ask Mike: Locker's Progression, Pollard's Impact and More

Posted Oct 12, 2013

Phil in Vancouver, WA: “Is there a target/estimated date for the return of Jake Locker?”

Almost half of the questions in the mailbag had something to do with Jake Locker’s return. Not surprisingly, there is no firm date for his return. 

What we know right now is that Locker has progressed enough to start doing more in terms of rehab. That is great news — no setbacks, no big issues, and no complications to this point. Locker is as good as he could possibly be right now. 

And as you would expect, Jake Locker is attacking his rehab and asking for more. The next few days will tell us a lot, as Locker’s activity will be ramped up and the team will see how his hip and knee responds to the work. If they respond well, early November would not seem to be out of the question. Hard to pinpoint what date seems logical until he starts to test the leg more in the coming days. 

Eric from Bend, Oregon: “Is there any talk about signing Bernard Pollard to a long term deal? What are your thoughts on that?”

Tennessee is very pleased with Pollard’s play, his professionalism and his attitude. Pollard has been the leader and pacesetter which the Titans thought that he would be. Pollard also seems very happy with the Titans.

It looks like a really good marriage. But I would think that neither Pollard nor the Titans would be rushing to re-up in mid-October.

From Pollard’s perspective, if he puts together 120 tackles and 5 interceptions in 16 games, he could be in line for a big payday at year’s end. By taking a deal right now, Pollard might be leaving money on the table. 

From the Titans’ perspective, Pollard has played more than 110 games and, while he’s played well in September and October, does the wear and tear of a long career show up in the December games?  NFL teams always want to make sure that any veteran has the gas in the tank to make it through entire seasons.

The good news is that Pollard and the Titans will have more than two months right after the season to make a deal before free agency rolls around. For that reason, I would be surprised if anyone is rushing to do anything. There is simply no hurry on either side.

Jason in Smyrna: “Do you think Gregg Williams has had a big impact on the Titans’ defense this year?”

I do. Adding bigger and better players helped the most, but Gregg’s impact can clearly be felt. You sense his aggressiveness. You sense his motivation. But you also sense the confidence that he has added to everyone associated with the defense.

Gregg Williams and Jerry Gray have the same philosophies on defense. They have done a good job of being two voices sharing a common message each week.

Nate in Lancaster, WI: “Do you think Kendall Wright could be used as a return man to get more touches and to make things happen because he is such an electric player when the ball is in his hands?”

Kendall Wright is electric with the football. And I’m all for getting Wright more touches per game. But he’s not really a returner. He had less than ten total returns while at Baylor. He’s also one of your starting wideouts. There is no doubt that he could learn to be a returner and that other teams use starters as their return men. In this case, however, it’s probably not the best move for Wright or the Titans.

Melody in Denver: “Living in Denver and being a Titans fan is rough at times. Do you feel that the fact Nashville is a smaller market keeps our guys from receiving any respect? Even when they are on fire, it is only because the other team is doing poorly, according to the commentators the past couple of weeks.”

Melody, there is something to that, but it’s not the entire story.

If you are doing your job on national television as a commentator, you talk about what you know. You know more about who you see on television. And, in most cases, a national commentator knows the Patriots, Giants, Cowboys, Broncos, etc. better than they know the Titans. It’s not personal against the Titans, it’s just the way of life for a team in a smaller market and it probably won’t change much.

It is, however, much better when you are winning. 

Tennessee has been out of the playoffs for five years. To get the national attention, you have to get on national television. To get on national television more than once, you have to make the playoffs.

Put it this way: in 2003, the Titans saw Steve McNair win the MVP award. The team was really good and had been since 1999. Tennessee might not have gotten as much attention as Dallas, but the Titans got plenty of national television exposure.

Winning over an extended period will make this as good as it can ever be for a team in a smaller market.

Click here to submit a question to Mike Keith!

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