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Jake Locker Shares Excitement with Fans on Academy Sports + Outdoors Titans Caravan

Posted Apr 30, 2013

Jake Locker signed autographs, posed for pictures and shared laughs with Titans fans as he began the Academy Sports + Outdoors Caravan with three public appearances that are free to fans.

MT. JULIET, Tenn. — Jake Locker’s left shoulder is feeling great, and his right arm seemed to show no fatigue from signing hundreds of autographs Monday as the quarterback kicked off the Academy Sports + Outdoors Caravan.

Locker’s surgically repaired left shoulder is not supposed to take a hit at least until preseason, but he was a big hit with fans at Riverside Kroger in Bowling Green, Ky., and at Academy Sports + Outdoors Stores in Mt. Juliet and Smyrna. He also surprised season ticket holders at a dinner event in Murfreesboro Monday night.

Jake Locker enjoyed bringing smiles to faces of Titans fans young and old as he kicked off the Academy Sports + Outdoors Titans Caravan.
Click here for a slideshow of stops in Bowling Green, Ky., Mt. Juliet and Smyrna.

Fans brought in jerseys, footballs and other unique merchandise for the third-year pro who is preparing for his second year as a starter to sign during the free public appearances. Locker shared laughs with fans, smiled in photographs and thanked fans for participating in the football team’s 15th goodwill tour across the Mid-South that spans two weeks.

“It’s just awesome to be able to come out and have an opportunity to spend time with our fans and let them know how much we appreciate the support they’re giving us,” Locker said. “This is my second year of doing it now, and it’s just cool to see how excited people get year-in and year-out about the team.”

Akeem Ayers and Jurrell Casey, who were drafted in 2011 after Locker, are continuing the tour Tuesday with three school visits (that are closed to the public) in White Bluff, Waverly and Camden. They are also making public appearances for autograph sessions at Clifty Farm Country Meats in Paris and a Kroger in Clarksville.

Locker said he shares in the excitement that fans are showing less than three months before training camp is scheduled to open. He said it’s been great to see the moves the Titans have made in free agency and in last week’s draft.

“I’m excited about the guys we’ve added: guys that are excited about playing football,” Locker said. “I think that’s contagious, and it’s exciting when you get those guys in your locker room.”

Locker was working out in the training room when former Alabama guard Chance Warmack made his official visit to the Titans. The QB introduced himself and welcomed the prospect. Warmack said that he was well aware that it was Locker and told him how much he hoped to block for Locker this fall. A quick glance at Warmack, was all Locker needed to say that he’d like the powerful player blocking for him, too.

The players got their wish last week when Warmack was available at the 10th overall spot. He is one of eight players drafted by the Titans.

“(Warmack’s) a talented guy, a downhill player, physical force and brings an attitude to the game,” Locker said.

The offensive line became susceptible to injuries last season. Tennessee used six different starting lineups for its offensive line. The Titans used free agency to add veteran interior linemen, drafted Warmack and center Brian Schwenke (fourth round) and retained Fernando Velasco. The Titans feel they’ve added depth to the position group that will increase competition and add injury insurance.

Unlike last season when Locker began the Titans’ offseason program as a competitor with veteran Matt Hasselbeck for the starting job that he won in training camp, Locker will likely take more reps this offseason with first-team linemen and receivers. He’s excited about that opportunity.

“It’s a line that’s always been strong,” Locker said. “I think with having the coaching staff that we do, they’re going to be good year-in and year-out because they have good teachers. I don’t expect anything different. There’s a lot of talent in that room, and those guys will be ready to go.”

While Titans general manager Ruston Webster frequently said the team would address offensive line and defense in the draft, another opportunity became available early in the second round. Tennessee thought former Vols receiver Justin Hunter would be selected in the first round, but he was still available at the start of the second day. The Titans aggressively traded up six spots, going from 40th to 34th because they thought someone ahead of them would draft the speedy player who is 6-foot-4 and has a 40-inch vertical.

Locker texted Hunter after he heard the news to let him know he looked forward to Hunter joining the team.

“He’s a bid-bodied guy that can run, jump, catches the ball well, so he’s a guy that can be a dynamic player for us and we’re excited about that,” Locker said. “There’s always been a wealth of talent in that room. They’re guys that are able to make big plays for us when they get the ball in their hands, and that’s what we expect from them this year.”

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