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Locker Stays on Schedule for Sunday

Posted Nov 9, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans coach Mike Munchak said Jake Locker capped a solid week of practice Friday and is “ready to go” on Sunday unless “something comes up between now and then.”

Locker took the brunt of the first-team reps the past three days and responded well to the challenges that were simulated in practice sessions. There are some things that happen in a game that you can’t or don’t want to create in practice, but Locker showed Titans coaches what they wanted to see to slate him to start Sunday’s game at Miami.

“I knew he’d be confident, I knew he’d feel good,” Munchak said. “We knew all those things going in. He handled the game plan well, which again, we thought he would. He moved around well, his reactions were good, just things you look for to see if someone is limited in any way where we felt that he wouldn’t be able to play at the level he needs to physically. We didn’t see any of that.”

“All the things you want to see, I think the best you can in practice, we saw it,” Munchak added. “There is no reason to think he can’t play at a high level on Sunday.”

If the plan proceeds, Locker will make his first start since Sept. 30 when he suffered a separated shoulder at Houston for the second time in four weeks. Locker initially hurt his left, non-throwing shoulder in the season-opener to prematurely end his first career start.

Locker last completed a pass in a game on Sept. 23 against Detroit when he went 29-for-42 for 378 yards, setting records in all three categories, and recorded his first career victory. He said his competitive nature has been challenged by being sidelined but he tried to best support Matt Hasselbeck and teammates.

“I think everybody that’s injured just wants to get back out there, and so I’m obviously excited about the opportunity to move forward and get to do a little more,” Locker said during his media session Wednesday. “It’s a lot better than standing around, watching, that’s for sure.”

One thing that may help the second-year pro’s return is a stronger and more consistent running game than the Titans had at the start of the season.

Chris Johnson has rushed for at least 90 yards in four straight games and five of the past six. Johnson had 45 yards on 33 carries in the first three games, but has 74 attempts for 526 yards in the past four games.

Miami, however, is taking pride in a streak of its own. The Dolphins have gone 22 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher (Ben Tate, 23 carries, 103 yards on Sept. 18, 2011) and rank third in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (83.9) and per play (3.6).

“It’s a challenge anytime you’re going up against something like that, a No. 1 defense or anything like that but at the same time it’s nothing that I can go into the game worried about,” Johnson said. “I can’t have it in my mind.”

Tennessee is looking to rebound from consecutive home losses before going on its bye in Week 11, which is the latest the franchise has had its bye.

Johnson, whose confidence rarely appears shaken, said the rest of the Titans have kept a good attitude, despite the disappointing start.

“I think every year we come in, no matter what people on the outside expect us to do, everybody comes in expecting to go to the playoffs and have a chance to go to the Super Bowl,” Johnson said, “and any time you’re having a bad year, I can think you can go off any team that’s having a bad year, it’s hard on them because we expected so much out of ourselves, where at the end of the day, we know there’s a chance.

“I can say we still believe,” Johnson added. “We don’t have guys pointing fingers and those types of things. We just know we’ve got to continue to work hard and take it one game at a time.”

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