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Jake Locker, Titans Ready for Lambeau Field, Cold Weather

Posted Dec 20, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The fan aspect of Jake Locker’s personality will appreciate his first opportunity to play at Lambeau Field. His competitive spirit, however, will need more than a historic setting to enjoy the experience.

Locker will make his 10th career start when the Titans (5-9) visit the Green Bay Packers (10-4).

“I’m a huge football fan, always have been,” Locker said, “so I can’t count the number of times as a little kid, sitting on the couch, watching games and hearing the announcer talk about, ‘It’s the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field,’ and just everything that came along with that, so it’s a great opportunity, something I’m excited about.”

The good news for players on both teams is that the snowstorm that was hitting Wisconsin will be gone by kickoff Sunday, but temperatures at game time are expected to be in the mid- to low-20s. Locker, a Washington native, said he’s experienced some cold weather games in the past, and the most important key to them is not letting weather “affect how you prepare or play.”

Florida native Chris Johnson also recalled seeing cold-weather games on television. Although he prefers warm temperatures, Johnson said he’ll be able to manage the cold and looks forward to playing a significant role in the game. His only previous trip to Lambeau Field occurred in the preseason of his rookie year when he rushed eight times for 24 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 46 yards.

“I wouldn’t say I looked forward to (playing in cold weather), but I would say it’s something that everybody should experience at least once,” Johnson said. “The running game is going to have to step up a notch in weather like that because sometimes it’s pretty hard to throw the ball and catch the ball in weather like that.”

Johnson delivered a franchise-record 94-yard touchdown run that put the Titans up 7-3 Monday against the Jets, and Tennessee answered a touchdown by New York with the decisive touchdown drive in the third quarter.

“To me, that was the storyline for this team, for this game,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “They go down and score and take the lead, and these guys put together a drive they needed to put together to go win the game. It was a good drive, Jake was 3-of-4 on the drive, made some big plays, had a couple of explosive passes.”

The Titans drove 64 yards in seven plays that included passes of 21, 12 and 13 yards by Locker to Michael Preston, Nate Washington and Kendall Wright, respectively. Locker then capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run.

“I felt our tempo was really good (on the second touchdown drive),” Locker said. “We were in and out of the huddle pushing the tempo. We had positive plays. First and second down, obviously, we were getting chunks of yardage and weren’t putting ourselves behind the sticks with penalties or negative plays, and I think that makes a big difference in having a successful drive or not.”

Washington said he was encouraged by the way the Titans felt the sense of urgency and responded with solid execution.

“We got down, we understood the mentality of being down,” Washington said. “I think guys went in for that drive, knowing we had to do everything we can.”

The Titans did not face third down and did not suffer from a penalty or a play that lost yards on either of their touchdown drives against the Jets.

“The most important thing to us was we didn’t have a third down,” Loggains said of the second scoring drive. “If you can stay in first and second down, manageable distances, we can be a lot better offense and that starts with not having the negative plays, gaining four yards on first down and being able to run the football a little bit.”

Tennessee went 2-for-13 on third downs against New York and wants to do much better this week to sustain drives and limit the amount of time Green Bay QB and reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers has with the football. Rodgers is leading the NFL with a 104.7 passer rating and has thrown 32 touchdowns against eight interceptions.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said Sunday’s game will be a “fun challenge” for a defense that has shown significant statistical improvements since Nov. 11, but he hopes the Titans’ offense will put together multiple drives like the one that resulted in the winning score against the Jets.

“A great quarterback, a great offensive system, we’ll be challenged quite a bit there on how to shut that down,” Munchak said. “The best thing that can help is our offense. If offensively, we can control the ball and help keep them off the field, kind of like when we played Peyton Manning all of those years. It’s that type of offense where you want your offense to stay on the field, so you can help the defense.”

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