Titans QB sees layoff from bye week as no issue

Titans QB sees layoff from bye week as no issue

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Jake Locker is hoping he can pick up where he left off for Tennessee before the team's bye week.

Locker missed five games waiting for his left, non-throwing shoulder to heal before returning Nov. 11 at Miami. He helped the Titans end a two-game skid with a 37-3 win, and just as he was working off the rust the bye week arrived.

Now the Titans (4-6) will try to put together a winning streak starting Sunday at Jacksonville (1-9).

``It was good for us as a team to have the opportunity to kind of let our bodies rest,'' Locker said Wednesday. ``You know it's 10 weeks. Really if you count the preseason it's 14 weeks. That's a lot of pounding on your body, so physically it's good for guys to just take two, three days to get away from it, come back refreshed. I think it's always a benefit for you.''

Coach Mike Munchak gave the Titans six days off for the bye week.

Now they're ready to see what Locker can keep doing for them as they try to make a run through the final six games at what would be the franchise's first playoff berth since 2008 after a tantalizing glimpse at what he brings to the offense in Miami.

Locker threw two touchdown passes and had a 93.8 passer rating in picking up his first career road win as a starter. He didn't throw too much as Tennessee had short fields with four turnovers, and he was 9 of 21 for 122 yards. But he also ran four times for 36 yards, including turning a trip over Chris Johnson's foot and possible sack into a 20-yard gain early.

``That's how we designed it,'' Locker said with a smile.

Locker said he knew he had protection up front on the pass play and only wanted to avoid a negative play, trying to get back to the line of scrimmage when he found a crease. Locker's ability to run was just one of the reasons why the Titans drafted him at No. 8 overall in 2011.

``That just reminds you of the things he can do that you can forget about when he hasn't played in a while,'' Munchak said. ``That's one. Most quarterbacks, that's second-and-20 right there. They don't get up, or they get up and can't get out like that and even something worse happens.''

Locker's teammates appreciate what he brings to the offense. Even with sitting out five games after hurting his left shoulder Sept. 30, Locker still ranks second on the team with 103 yards rushing.

``The ability to make plays with his feet certainly gives us a weapon that defenses can't prepare for,'' safety Jordan Babineaux said. ``That's good to see. ... Jake is making progress. He's developing as a player, and he's starting to understand his comfort level, and you can see that in his performance.''

Another quarterback who can run isn't what the Jaguars want to see as they try to win their first game at home this season. Andrew Luck ran for two TDs against Jacksonville on Nov. 8, and the Jaguars are giving up 137.3 yards per game.

``He has a great arm, and I know his ability to make things happen with his feet is a dangerous thing,'' Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said.

This will be Locker's first game against Tennessee's AFC South rival. For the season, he is completing 59.8 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and only two interceptions. He's been sacked only four times.

Munchak said they didn't limit the game plan against Miami to ease Locker back into the game, and the quarterback easily shook off a hard sack by the Dolphins early.

Munchak pulled Locker against Miami early in the fourth quarter with a big lead. He said Locker has a great understanding of what they want him to do.

``I'm excited to see him play again,'' Munchak said. ``It seems like he hasn't played in a while. When you have a week off and we waited six weeks for him to play, and he played well, then it's been like another two weeks, and now he's going to play again. I'm excited to see where we're at again as a team after sitting out for a week.''

Notes: TE Craig Stevens (hamstring) did not practice along with S Al Afalava (ankle), RB Jamie Harper (ankle), and WR Lavelle Hawkins (ankle). Munchak said Stevens is expected to practice Thursday. WR Kenny Britt (knee) practiced along with LB Colin McCarthy (right ankle) and OT Byron Stingily (back).


Online: and


Follow Teresa M. Walker on Twitter:

Quick Links

3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings


3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings

Not much separated the Washington Capitals and the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. A late 2-on-0 goal for Brett Connolly proved to be the difference.

Here's why the Caps ultimately walked away with the 1-0 win.

A first period goalie interference call

Andreas Athanasiou thought he had given the Red Wings a first period lead, but Barry Trotz challenged the call for goalie interference. The review showed that Tyler Bertuzzi clipped Philipp Grubauer in the head with an elbow right before the shot went in. Given how long it took the Caps to get going in this game, it is fair to say an early deficit would have been hard to overcome.


Killing off a full two-minute 5-on-3

Two man advantages are hard to kill. Killing off a full two-minutes at 5-on-3, that's a tall task. With the game still scoreless in the second period, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller were both assessed penalties giving Detroit two-full minutes at 5-on-3. The Red Wings managed four shots on goal, but Washington was able to successfully kill off the penalty and keep the game scoreless.

Philipp Grubauer

There were few players who had strong efforts on Tuesday, but Grubauer was phenomenal. Even when the game felt sleepy in the first two periods, Detroit still managed 28 shots on goal, all of which were turned aside by the German netminder. When Washington finally took the lead in the third, the Red Wings woke up and began pushing the offense, but Grubauer was in the zone at that point and could not be beaten. His best save came in the third period when he stared down a breakaway from Athanasiou and extended the pad to deny the shot.

Quick Links

Tarik's 3 stars: Grubauer, Caps shut down the Red Wings


Tarik's 3 stars: Grubauer, Caps shut down the Red Wings

It wasn’t pretty but the Caps eventually got what they needed in Detroit: two points.  

After a sleepy first 40 minutes, Brett Connolly scored midway through the third period and then Philipp Grubauer made sure it stood up at Little Caesars Arena, where Washington eked out a 1-0 victory Thursday over the scuffling Red Wings.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Philipp Grubauer, Capitals

For much of the game, Grubi was left to fend for himself. Good thing for the Caps he was up to the task. The German netminder, who has been one of the NHL’s top goaltenders since Thanksgiving, turned aside 39 shots, including three stops on a pivotal 5-on-3 penalty kill in the second period.

2-Brett Connolly, Capitals

The Caps didn’t get many Grade-A opportunities vs. Jimmy Howard. But Connolly buried one of the few they got…on a 2-on-0, set up by Jakub Vrana in the third period. Connolly’s goal was his 15th of the season in his 63rd game, equaling the career-high he set a year ago in 66 contests. Vrana, meantime, has three goals and five assists since getting scratched 12 games ago.

3-Lars Eller, Capitals

Eller didn’t record a point, but he was all over the puck in Motown. The veteran center finished with a game-high six shots on net. He also had a key backcheck against Darren Helm, on a shorthanded breakaway, in the first period. Eller was good in the dot, too, winning eight of 12 faceoffs.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.