NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Many Titans players lugged bags of shoes and other personal items over their shoulders Monday — a day after the 2012 season ended — while quarterback
Locker said he will undergo surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder next week, and has set a goal of not missing any organized team activity practices in the spring because of the rehabilitation process.
Locker said he was “definitely” glad to learn that Mike Munchak would be his coach for his third NFL season in 2013. Titans Owner and Founder K.S. “Bud” Adams, Jr. informed Munchak, who is 15-17 through two seasons, of the decision Monday.
“I think he’s a great football coach and we’re a lot closer than everybody might think we are. We’re excited going forward with him,” Locker said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a coach and as a person, and I’m excited to have another year with him because I think he’s going to have this thing going in the right direction.”
Locker injured the shoulder in the season opener when he tackled New England safety Patrick Chung during a play that was first called a fumble recovery and return but eventually ruled an incomplete pass. He hurt it again Sept. 30 at Houston, causing him to miss most of that game and the next five games. The first-year starter returned for the final seven games after receiving medical clearance, and Tennessee closed its season 3-4 in those contests.
Locker said the in-game experience was valuable for multiple reasons. Game speeds can be tough to simulate in practice, and he and coaches will be able to build on what worked well and improve what didn’t through film study and additional drills.
Any offseason in the NFL has its share of questions and changes. Munchak said he, his staff and Tennessee’s personnel department have important decisions to make in the coming weeks before putting together the plan for the free agency period after the Super Bowl and for offseason workouts and the NFL Draft in April.
Tennessee’s players and coaches said they are unhappy with the win-loss results they got this season, but see multiple areas to build on to accomplish more of their goals in 2013.
“We can’t be 6-10 sitting here next season, not going to the playoffs, so I know that’s our mindset, and the majority of the people in this locker room, that it can’t happen again,”
The Titans concluded the season with 16 players who had been on the active roster on injured reserve, including four of five starting offensive linemen in training camp, dynamic tight end
Munchak said he will meet with medical staff Wednesday to lay out the timeline for each player’s treatment and recovery. He said Baptist Sports Park may be more full of people this offseason because so many players who are undergoing rehab for injuries will do that at the team facility.
“Ideally, you want these guys — the thing you don’t want to wind up happening is guys think they can put it off and do without it and be OK, and then all of a sudden, you need a scope in March or April,” Munchak said. “Those are the injuries that bother you because then they’re missing OTAs and camp and all that stuff, so as a medical staff we have to do a good job of making sure we don’t allow that to happen if we think something needs to be done, encourage the player to get it done, let him get a second opinion, if he doesn’t feel comfortable, and then have the procedure done so we’re as healthy as we can be in the spring when we get started.”
Munchak, who has been with the Titans/Oilers franchise since he was drafted in 1982, said the annual post-season evaluation process has already started.
“This is the time of year where all of the emphasis is on the coaching side for changes,” Munchak said. “Obviously, personnel and things like that don’t happen for a little while longer. You’re looking to see what we can do better. Is there a way to improve our staff? Is there a better alternative than what we have? Just like they do for me. They decide if I’m the best coach right now for the team.
“I think it’s the same thing for us, to see if there are spots where we need to make changes,” Munchak continued. “If we think that or I think that, we’ll do that. If not, we’ll move forward. I think that’s kind of what you’re going through now. We’ll just move on to the next season.”