It almost isn’t fair to judge Jake Locker’s fledgling NFL career.
The Tennessee Titans selected the former University of Washington star with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 draft, but he played in just five games as the team flirted with playoff contention behind veteran Matt Hasselbeck.
During the offseason, owner Bud Adams threw his support behind the young signal-caller. And head coach Mike Munchak named Locker the starter after a preseason quarterback competition.
He played the best game of his career in a Week 3 victory against the Detroit Lions, completing 29 of 42 passes for 378 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 44-41 win.
But Locker was hurt after throwing just two passes the next week against Houston, and he missed the next five games.
As he prepares for his first career start against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, Locker is starting over once again.
Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer was fired following a 24-19 loss against Jacksonville on Nov. 25, and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains was promoted to replace him.
Tennessee also brought in longtime Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore as a consultant, and the early results were mixed.
Locker had 309 passing yards — just the second 300-yard game of his career — but he completed just 21 of 45 passes and had three interceptions to go with one touchdown pass in a 24-10 loss against Houston.
Still, the quarterback — who is now 2-5 as a starter and has played just 12 games in 1 3/4 NFL seasons — believes Moore will help his game.
“He brings a lot,” Locker said. “He’s got a lot of wisdom. He’s been around the game for a long time and coached a lot of players that have been very successful. So he just has a lot of knowledge, a lot of things that are able to help you, little details that maybe you don’t pay attention to or wouldn’t think that they are as important as they really turn out to be when he explains that stuff to you.”
The Titans (4-8) still have high hopes for Locker.
His athleticism adds a new dimension to the offense, and he could become the centerpiece of a system that is slowly moving away from talented but inconsistent running back Chris Johnson.
“He’s a big threat, very dangerous,” Colts linebacker Pat Angerer said. “You can kind of underestimate him, but he has made a lot of good plays with his feet.”
Locker doesn’t look to run often, but when he does, he’s averaging 7.7 yards per carry.
Put that ability together with a cannon arm, and it’s easy to see the potential that has Tennessee so intrigued.
The Titans just wish they’d see more consistency.
Locker has completed 56.6 percent of his passes for 1,473 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. Those are numbers that leave the needle very much in the middle for his career. Not good enough to declare him the franchise’s quarterback of the future. Not bad enough to call for a new plan.
He’s got four games remaining this season to change those numbers for the better.
And a win against Indianapolis (8-4) on Sunday would be a good place to start.
The Colts stunned the Titans 19-13 in overtime in Nashville on Oct. 28, winning on rookie running back Vick Ballard’s now famous twisting dive into the end zone.
Locker watched that day from the sideline. He hopes to write a different ending in Indianapolis.
But, after the Colts’ heroics in the final three minutes last week at Detroit, he’s well aware of the challenge ahead.
“What’s impressive about Indy right now is their ability to find ways to win at the end,” Locker said. “They’ve been behind in multiple games and found ways to come from behind late in games and win. We have to focus on the red zone and then when it gets down to the end, don’t be comfortable with the lead if you have it. You have to understand that they’re very good at making things happen and making big plays at the end of the game, and you’ve got to respect that.”
Titans QB hopes latest fresh start sticks
It almost isn’t fair to judge Jake Locker’s fledgling NFL career.
Cottrell, Buck win regional titles
It didn’t take long for Pendleton Heights junior Kiawna Cottrell to stake her claim to a spot in the girls track state finals at Tuesday night’s North Central Regional.
On her first attempt at the long jump, the Arabians met the state standard of 17 feet, 4 inches.
“That started the night out right,” Pendleton Heights coach Melissa Hagerman said.
It only got better from there.
Eagles soar into sectional final
On a warm and windy Tuesday evening, four teams hit the field at Frankton with a chance to play for the Sectional 40 softball championship. The host Frankton Eagles grabbed the first spot in the final with a dominating 24-0 win over Winchester.
PH’s 3 homers lift softball team
Pendleton Heights hit a trio of home runs and Arabians starting pitcher Bailey Benefiel came within two outs of a no-hitter in a softball sectional semifinal here Tuesday evening.
The PH clouts came from Sarah Dixon, Elizabeth Sigler and Jordan Dean, and they covered everything but a grand slam as the Arabians bounced New Castle 15-2. PH will play in today’s championship game at 7:30 p.m., against Greenfield-Central.
Ken de la Bastide: Stellar field for Little 500
Since returning to Indiana in 1973 there have been very few Pay Less Little 500 races that I’ve missed in 50 years, but the field for the 65th running on Saturday can only be described as stellar.
Harter wins Red Haven Award
Matt Harter’s hours aren’t filled with longing and dreaming. They are filled with action and accomplishment.
The Anderson High School senior’s activities in and out of the competitive arenas, earned him the 2013 Red Haven Award during Tuesday’s Anderson Noon Exchange Club meeting at The Edge.
PH’s run ends at regional
Pendleton Heights faced two powerful opponents Tuesday in the girls tennis regional at Marion — 16th-ranked Delta (21-2) and winds gusting to 30 mph.
The combination was too much to overcome in a 5-0 loss that ended the most successful season in school history.
Cowan bounces Broncos in Class A opener
A pitching change helped propel Cowan past Daleville in the softball sectional at Liberty Christian on Tuesday.
Experienced Heat, upstart Pacers ready to go
Dwyane Wade’s rookie season ended with a playoff loss to the Indiana Pacers. The next year, the Miami Heat were headed to the Eastern Conference finals and certain that an NBA championship was in their sights.
That’s when Wade learned a valuable lesson: Never take playoff chances for granted.
Arabians follow Vellinga's lead
If the student-athletes who took the field in Monday night’s sectional softball action needed a bit of motivation, they could have looked to pitcher’s circle at Legends Field where Andrea Vellinga stood and threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Pendleton Heights battled Richmond in the opening game, as the Arabians ran past the Red Devils 10-0 in five innings. Game 2 featured Anderson and New Castle, with the Indians getting trounced 10-1.
Bulldogs outslug Raiders in Class 2A thriller
Shenandoah sent 24 batters to the plate and scored nine runs in the final three innings of its Class 2A softball sectional opener Monday at Frankton.
And the Raiders (15-12) were the losing team.
Lapel (10-13) failed to reach base in 13 straight at-bats from the end of the second inning to start of the seventh and rallied from deficits in each of the final two innings to beat Shenandoah 12-11 in an eight-inning postseason classic.
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- Cottrell, Buck win regional titles