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Titans QB Locker practices again, wants to play

October 17, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Injured Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker says he’s preparing to start Sunday against San Francisco.

The Titans aren’t saying he will, but they’re also not saying he won’t.

Coach Mike Munchak said Thursday the Titans are going to wait and see how Locker feels after a second straight practice before deciding who starts against the 49ers.

“We’re not going to change anything until there’s a reason to do that,” Munchak said. “So like I said, a lot of it will depend again on the next 24 hours or so to see really how he’s doing and what is realistic. Again ... we put him through a lot of things today, movement and stuff and things ... more game-like for him. It’s kind of wait and see now.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick is listed as the starter preparing for his third start for Locker, who sprained his right hip and knee Sept. 29. Locker watched the first game he missed using crutches on the sideline of a 26-17 loss to Kansas City on Oct. 6, and he ditched them before the Titans lost 20-13 at Seattle.

“I’m doing everything I can to get on the field as soon as I can,” Locker said. “I’m going to prepare as if I was and go from there.”

The Titans (3-3) never set a timeline for Locker’s return other than to say they expected him to miss a few weeks, and Nov. 3 at St. Louis had been the game the quarterback was anticipated to return. But the Titans know from experience that Locker can be a quick healer because he started a week after hurting his non-throwing shoulder in the season opener last season.

“He usually heals ahead of schedule,” Munchak said. “He definitely loves the game. He definitely wants to be a part of it. He doesn’t’ want to miss anymore. These last two weeks have been really hard on him, and so I think he’s going to do everything he can to put himself in a situation where he’s ready to play.”

Locker did more Thursday than Wednesday, and the Titans not only gave him some snaps in team drills but had him moving around the pocket and scrambling to test his leg. Munchak said they wanted the quarterback to become comfortable with people around his legs and facing a pass rush.

The quarterback said his leg is feeling pretty good and he’s moving well. The brace is giving him some confidence, but he also is trying to see how comfortable he can be with it.

“There’s certain things that don’t feel normal yet,” Locker said.

Locker had completed 62.2 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and no interceptions before he got hurt. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been intercepted four times in his two starts.

Jim Harbaugh is familiar with Locker from coaching against the quarterback in college when the quarterback was at Washington and he coached Stanford.

“He’s always been an extremely tough competitor,” the 49ers coach said. “That’s why you, knowing the competitor he is, if there’s any possible way that he would play he’ll be out there.”

The 49ers are preparing for the Titans’ offense no matter which quarterback starts.

“And then if Locker shows up, they may do some of the read-option game with him,” 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “So we’ve got to be ready for that.”

Whoever starts will work with a new center after the Titans decided to go with rookie Brian Schwenke over veteran Rob Turner, who started the first six games.

The switch to the fourth-round draft pick out of California is the final piece of a revamped line, joining new left guard Andy Levitre and rookie right guard Chance Warmack. Schwenke hurt his left hamstring in training camp, but the Titans need the more physical rookie to boost a run game that had a season-low 66 yards last week.

“When you’re as big as he is, as strong as he is, you make up for a lot of things not being just right in the run game and the pass game because he takes up so much more space,” Munchak said.

Notes: S Bernard Pollard (ankle) missed a second straight practice but is expected back Friday. LB Moise Fokou (left knee) and DE Derrick Morgan (shoulder) also sat out.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org


AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley and Antonio Gonzalez contributed to this report from Santa Clara, Calif.

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