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Notebook: Tom Moore Says 'Sky's the Limit' for Jake Locker

Posted Dec 15, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tom Moore said Saturday that Jake Locker doesn’t need to be Peyton Manning or any other NFL quarterback but just be the best he can be.

Moore said he’s seen plenty of evidence from the Titans’ first-year starting quarterback and second-year pro will accept nothing less.

“He’s a hard worker,” Moore said. “He’s going to do all the things necessary to become great. He’s willing to work, he’s willing to spend extra time. He has great talent. I think the sky’s the limit for him. I really do.”

Moore began helping the Titans as an offensive consultant on Nov. 28 three weeks after he turned 74. Titans coach Mike Munchak contacted Moore to see if he would be interested in helping after Munchak made the decision to replace Chris Palmer with Dowell Loggains, 32, as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator.

Moore has worked with Locker the past two-and-a-half weeks on the practice field, in meetings and on the sidelines, offering tips and suggestions that he’s accumulated through decades of coaching in the NFL that included three Super Bowl victories.

Moore joined the Indianapolis Colts as their offensive coordinator in 1998, which was Manning’s rookie season. The Colts went 3-13 that first season but flipped that to 13-3 the following year as Manning went on to win four NFL MVP awards in Indianapolis. Moore said he’s not trying to recreate Manning from Locker, but just help Locker grow.

“Everybody’s got to be their own quarterback, let people be themselves, don’t get into comparisons, don’t try to manufacture people,” Moore said. “You can’t do that. Peyton is Peyton and Jake is Jake.”

Locker is scheduled to make his ninth career start Monday when the Titans (4-9) host the New York Jets (6-7) at LP Field on Monday Night Football.

He suffered an injury to his left, non-throwing shoulder in the season opener and hurt it again early at Houston, causing him to miss the Titans’ next five games. He returned at Miami in a Titans win, but Tennessee has lost three straight games.

Moore said he’s enjoyed his time in Tennessee so far — partially thanks to successful knee replacement surgeries (one in April and one in August) that were performed at Duke University, partly because of his respect for Munchak and the Titans’ organization and partly because he sees “great days” ahead.

“I have great, great respect for Mike,” Moore said. “I think Mike is a tremendous person, a tremendous professional and he’s going to have a great career as a head coach in this league. He’s very knowledgeable, very organized. He runs a good program.”

STOP THE RUN: The Jets’ addition of receiver Braylon Edwards this week didn’t change preparations too much, Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner said.

Edwards was with the Jets for part of 2009 and all of 2010, so the Titans expect him to have somewhat of a rhythm with Jets QB Mark Sanchez, but the bigger focus will be stopping the run, Verner said.

“Shonn Greene and all their running backs run the ball hard so we have to try to stop that,” Verner said. “We’ve got to definitely be physical at the point of attack because you can see on film they’re trying to beat you up, trying to be physical — not trying to beat you up illegally but they’re trying to smash-mouth football you — so we’ve got to put on our big boy pads and try and find a way to stop them.”

Defensive end Derrick Morgan said the Titans want to force the Jets into passing situations as often as possible.

“It’s football at the end of the day. It’s not anything special that we have to get ready for, but we’ve got to stop the run in order to get them into passing situations,” Morgan said. “We have a good sense of what they’re going to try and do, and I have confidence that we’re going to be able to execute it.”

Morgan credited a “good rush plan” and solid practice throughout the week for Tennessee’s performance at Indianapolis last week that included four sacks and nine quarterback hits.

POSSIBLE WILDCAT?: Another element of preparation this week has been for the Jets’ possibly using Tim Tebow in a “Wildcat” formation, although there have been conflicting messages out of New York as to whether that will really happen.

“You can’t listen to reports or what people are saying,” Munchak said. “We are going to be prepared for whatever we think they’re capable of doing. He has been hurt recently and hadn’t played as much, as far as using that package.” 

SIDELINED: Colin McCarthy (concussion), Damian Williams (hamstring) and Scott Solomon (knee) have been ruled out for Monday’s game.

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