Locker learning but not winning like other rookies


Locker learning but not winning like other rookies

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Andrew Luck and RG3 are winning. Russell Wilson, too - and they're all NFL rookies.

Jake Locker is in his second season, and his 2-5 record as a starter comes nowhere near the success some of this season's young quarterbacks are enjoying.

The Tennessee Titans are not worried.

Coach Mike Munchak says his quarterback takes blame for his mistakes and works hard not to make the same one twice. They love his toughness, and Munchak says he's been around quarterbacks not as willing to accept responsibility when plays go wrong.

``I think our team needs to take a step, it's not necessarily just him,'' Munchak said Wednesday.

Locker, who sat behind Matt Hasselbeck in 2011 as a rookie and missed five games this season due to injury, finally makes the first of what the Titans (4-8) hope are many starts against Luck and the Colts (8-4) on Sunday. He is coming off his worst start yet with five turnovers - two fumbles and three interceptions - along with being sacked six times in a 24-10 loss to Houston.

Watching film of that game wasn't nearly as bad as Locker feared.

``You watch the turnovers, it wasn't guys doing the wrong things. It wasn't going the wrong place with the ball,'' Locker said. ``Balls got tipped, and guys made plays. If it doesn't get tipped and gets through, we've got guys wide open to catch passes for us. From that standpoint, it's kind of encouraging almost.''

As a rookie, Locker played in five games coming off the bench in a season when Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder got to start and had success. The Titans named Locker their starter this August, and he wound up missing almost as many games as he's played this season after dislocating his left, non-throwing shoulder twice in the first four games.

Locker returned Nov. 11 and led the Titans to a 37-3 win at Miami. Since then, the eighth pick overall in 2011 out of Washington has struggled with five of his seven interceptions along with seven of the 11 sacks he's taken coming in the past two games - both losses.

Against Houston, he was incomplete on seven straight passes early only to settle down in the second half. The Titans outgained Houston 210-110 in the second half and had chances to make it a game with Locker also using his legs. But he had a 28-yard run to midfield wiped out by a penalty.

Locker ranks second on the team in rushing behind only Chris Johnson, averaging 7.7 yards on 21 rushes for 162 yards. That mobility is a key for Locker, who Indianapolis interim coach Bruce Arians said was more natural on the move coming out of school.

``From the pocket is where you thought you were going to have to develop him,'' Arians said. ``I think that's still a natural thing for him to get out and make plays, whether it be running or on the run and throwing. He's still learning to develop everything within the pocket and getting to the second, third and fourth guy.''

Locker ranks 17th among AFC quarterbacks in both attempts (212) and completions (120). He's completing 56.6 percent of his passes for 1,473 yards and a 77 passer rating. He has thrown for more than 300 yards twice this season, first in rallying the Titans to an overtime win over Detroit on Sept. 23 and in the loss to Houston.

Titans receiver Nate Washington said Locker is everything they expected and are satisfied with what he's giving them.

``With all the hype that's been coming in with young quarterbacks, I think people aren't touching on there's still more to learn,'' Washington said. ``Everybody who comes in this league, there's more to learn about this game so that's going to happen with everybody. He's doing what we're asking of him. Could he be doing better? Yeah. But he could be doing a lot worse.''

Locker also has his teammates' respect. After Houston linebacker Tim Dobbins intercepted a tipped pass, Locker tackled him, knocking him up into the air for his second tackle this season. Locker later stood up for center Fernando Velasco after what the Titans called a ``cheap shot'' from Houston defensive lineman Antonio Smith late in the game.

``That's why we love Jake,'' Velasco said. ``Jake's a great guy. He's a warrior. He's a fighter. He's got a lot of heart. I appreciate him going to bat for me.''

Notes: LT Michael Roos did not practice with a sore right knee. Munchak said he went through the walk-through portion and could practice Friday. The Titans placed LG Steve Hutchinson on injured reserve Wednesday after claiming G Mitch Petrus off waivers from New England. ... LB Colin McCarthy (concussion) returned to practice after missing the Houston game. ... WR Damian Williams (hamstring) did not practice and likely will miss Sunday's game. DE Kamerion Wimbley (toe) did not practice.


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After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

Associated Press

After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

The Redskins are very thin at running back right now. 

Today at practice the Redskins had three running backs on the field. Rob Kelley and Kapri Bibbs are fully healthy while Chris Thompson is limited as he recovers from a broken leg he suffered last November. 

Injuries have hit the depth at running back. The most recent casualty was Martez Carter, who was waived with an injury designation. 

The move was surprising since Carter had some good runs against the Jets during their preseason game on Thursday and he did not appear to be injured during the game. 

Coach Jay Gruden did not offer any more details as to what the injury to Carter was, only that he is no longer with the team. 

Also sidelined with lower leg injuries are Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall. According to media reports, Perine will be out one week and Marshall for two to four. Gruden would not confirm the timelines, saying only that they are undergoing treatment and the timetable for their returns in unknown. 

The Redskins will bring in some running backs to try out on Sunday. They will need at least one and probably two in order to get through the upcoming preseason game against the Broncos on Friday. 

In other personnel moves, the Redskins waived linebacker Jeff Knox and defensive end Jalen Wilkerson and signed offensive tackle Kendall Calhoun, defensive back Darius Hillary, and wide receiver Allenzae Staggers. 

More Redskins news

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler


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Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya Ovechkina welcome baby boy

NBC Sports Washington/USATSI

Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya Ovechkina welcome baby boy

After lifting the Stanley Cup just over two months ago, something else very exciting has happened in Alex Ovechkin's life.

Saturday morning, Nastya and Alex Ovechkin welcomed their first child, a baby boy named Sergei, after Ovechkin's late brother. 

Ovi spent this week practicing at the Florida Panthers' facilities with other NHL players living in the surrounding area.

After the Cup's visit to Moscow, Nastya and Alex settled down at their apartment in Miami, staying put and preparing for the birth. 

The couple were married two years ago but didn't hold an official ceremony until July of last year. The celebration was as lavish as you'd expect.

She revealed her pregnancy shortly after the Cup victory, and has kept us up to date on life this summer via Instagram. A few weeks ago, the Ovechkins graced HELLO! Russia magazine, showing off Nastya's baby bump among their glamour shots.

💛 @aleksandrovechkinofficial #hello #hellorussia @hello__ru

A post shared by Nastasiya Ovechkina (@nastyashubskaya) on

Congratulations to Ovi and Nastya, and all our best wishes for health and happiness!