Jake Locker is convinced his surgically repaired left shoulder will be 100 percent by the time training camp starts. Earlier, in fact.
As for how he will feel over the ensuing five months, though, the Tennessee Titans quarterback can’t say for sure.
“I’ve said before, it’s part of the game,” Locker said Monday. “It’s a physical game and you’re going to have to play with nicks and bruises. And finding ways to be successful doing that is also important.”
The third-year player said he met with team doctors last week and was cleared for all activity other than contact, which is not a part of the offseason conditioning program that started Monday. He said he would be fully healed by June, when the teams conduct minicamps and organized team activities.
He spent roughly a month following surgery in a sling and it was nearly three months before his full range of motion was restored.
“Now I feel great,” he said. “I don’t feel like there’s any everyday stuff that I have trouble doing now. … So I’m getting back into it and excited about it.”
Locker first hurt the shoulder on his non-throwing arm in the 2012 opener against New England, a game the Titans lost 34-13. He reinjured it early in a loss at Houston a week after the season’s first victory, 44-41 in overtime against Detroit.
The second occurrence of the injury caused him to miss five weeks, and Tennessee lost three of the first four contests after he returned.
“Ideally, I would have loved to be in there for those five games,” he said. “I thought we were catching stride as an offense, playing pretty well coming out of the Detroit game going into the Houston game. It was unfortunate but something we can’t dwell on. We can’t do anything about it now. We have to look forward to what we have in front of us.”
He dismissed the notion that the situation with his shoulder adversely affected his play or his ability to throw. For the season, he completed 56.4 percent of his passes and had more interceptions (11) than touchdown passes (10).
“You’ve got to play well for your team to make it the playoffs,” Locker said. “That’s something that every one of us should be focused on. I definitely am and I’m hoping to have a better outcome than we did last year and to personally play better than I did last year.”
To that end, he would like to be healthier than he was in 2012.
Only twice in the last 11 years did the Titans have the same starting quarterback in all 16 games. They went 11-5 and made it to the AFC championship game with Steve McNair in 2002 but were 9-7 and narrowly missed out on the postseason with Matt Hasselbeck in 2011.
Their most recent playoff appearance was in 2008, when Kerry Collins started 15 of the 16. That was a year after Vince Young started 15 and led the team to the postseason.
“I think that’s the goal every year — to come in every year as strong and as healthy as possible and to finish that same way,” he said. “I’m going to do everything my power to make that happen.”