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Notebook: Jake Locker Regains more Mobility

Posted Oct 30, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jake Locker retained the knee brace but regained more mobility after the Titans’ bye week.

“I really don’t do the percentage thing, but I feel a lot more confident and am moving around better so I feel good,” Locker said Wednesday. “(The brace) does what I need, so I like it.”

Unlike some Titans who managed to get out of town to visit family, friends or former college teammates during last week’s break, Locker stayed in Nashville and spent a significant time at Saint Thomas Sports Park.

Locker said he did some rehab on the hip and knee sprains he suffered Sept. 29 that cost him nearly half that game and the two ensuing starts. The third-year pro and second-year starter returned to the lineup Oct. 20 against San Francisco and went 25-of-41 passing for 326 yards with two touchdowns and one interception (his first of the season).

In addition to rehab exercises in the training room, Locker also threw passes and moved around on the field to maintain arm strength and continue improving his mobility.

That could come in handy Sunday when Tennessee (3-4) visits St. Louis (3-5). The Rams recorded seven sacks Monday against Seattle (although the Seahawks were without their starting tackles).

Titans coach Mike Munchak said there are multiple benefits of the fact Locker was able to play against the 49ers and that the QB has improved physically.

“He looks good. I think he’s ready to go,” Munchak said. “I’m glad all of that’s behind us. I’m glad we’re not having that discussion all these two weeks about, ‘Can he play, how’s his knee, how’s his hip?’ That’s gone. We feel good about him, and his leg’s stronger. No limitations. We need to go win.”

The Titans are two games behind the Colts (5-2) in the AFC South standings after dropping their past three.

“You look at where we sit in our division, and we’re not where we want to be,” Locker said. “We’re 3-4 and we think we could have a few more wins, but in the grand scheme of things we’re two games back and we have an opportunity to play that team twice before the end of the year.”

Receiver Nate Washington said it’s been encouraging to continue to see Locker make progress because the Titans feel like the offense was beginning to hit its stride (and led the Jets 24-6) before Locker’s injury.

“Any time you can get your leader back at that position, it’s definitely going to be beneficial,” Washington said. “Jake is definitely one of the great leaders in this locker room, not just with his words but with his play, so to have him back out there will definitely help us a lot.”

ROSTER MOVES: The Titans placed Rob Turner on injured reserve with a shoulder injury and added offensive lineman Pat McQuistan to the 53-man roster. Turner started six games for the Titans this season after joining Tennessee as a free agent following a season in which he played 16 games for the Rams.

McQuistan has played in 71 games since he was selected by Dallas in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL Draft with a pick that was acquired from the New York Jets after they traded to select Kellen Clemens in the second round. (Clemens is expected to start for the Rams against the Titans Sunday in St. Louis). McQuistan spent part of the 2011 training camp with the Titans but was released and picked up by New Orleans.

Additionally, the Titans signed G Oscar Johnson, and DT Chigbo Anunoby to the practice squad. Johnson spent the 2013 offseason with Tennessee as an undrafted rookie. Anunoby has been a member of the practice squads of Indianapolis (2012) and Washington (2012-13). The Titans waived WR Rashad Ross from their practice squad, and rookie defensive tackle Stefan Charles was signed by the Bills to Buffalo’s 53-man roster.

TITANS CONFIDENT IN WILLIAMS: Munchak said Damian Williams has brought an enthusiasm to his expanded role of returning punts and kicks. Williams is replacing Darius Reynaud, who was released Oct. 21, in both roles.

“He’s always been a guy we’ve been comfortable with in that position. He’s excited about it, and that’s the most important part,” Munchak said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh man, I’m doing this.’ He really is excited to make a difference in the game in that area.”

Munchak said Alterraun Verner and Kendall Wright also have punt return abilities but Williams is first in line. Munchak pointed out that the likelihood of kickoff returns may be less likely in the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams have only played one outdoor game this season, and just 11 of the 39 kickoffs by St. Louis have been returned.

SAFETY VALVE: The bye week helped players rest and recover, but it’s unsure if that span will be enough time for Titans safety Michael Griffin to heal from a quadriceps injury he suffered against San Francisco.

Munchak said the Titans are still evaluating the plan if Griffin is unavailable at free safety, which is unchartered territory because Griffin has never missed a game since he was drafted in 2007 (103 regular season and two playoff games).

The Titans signed George Wilson this offseason and Corey Lynch on Monday. Wilson is capable of playing either safety position and has also covered tight ends in a three-safety package with Griffin and Bernard Pollard this season. Lynch also has significant NFL experience and spent part of training camp with Tennessee.

“We’re hoping he’ll be able to do something by Friday,” Munchak said. “It’s one of those things where you just don’t know. Guys heal quicker than others and he’s moving around pretty well, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”

INJURY REPORT: In addition to Griffin, LB Moise Fokou (knee) and David Stewart (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday. Jurrell Casey was limited with an ankle injury. Click here for the full injury report.

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