Locker says starting assignment 'not a huge surprise'

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 12:58pm

Jake Locker wasn’t shocked. Nor does he see the opportunity to start Friday’s preseason game as his big shot.

“I wasn’t blown away by it because I think it’s really similar to what we’ve done in practice to this point and OTAs,” the Tennessee Titans second-year quarterback said. “There’s been a rotation. There’s been one day Matt gets a lot more snaps with the ones than I do and the next day vice versa.

“Like I say, I don’t think it was a huge surprise.”

Coach Mike Munchak announced following Monday’s workout the team’s quarterback plans for Week 2 of the preseason. Locker was not available to the media until the following morning.

The 2011 first-round draft pick (eighth overall) has yet to start a game — regular season or preseason —in the NFL. He gets his first chance on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Friday, 6:30 p.m., WKRN-TV Ch. 2), a team that was next-to-last in the league last season in yards allowed per pass play and the only team in the NFL that had fewer quarterback sacks than Tennessee.

“It’s a little different,” Locker said. “You have a little better idea of what plays you’re going to run and kind of what you want to get accomplished in the first couple drives. So there’s a little different mindset, but I prepare the same way and go out and just try to make the most of it.

“… I told you guys from the beginning that I take any opportunity I get. … I hope that I can go out and show as well as I can. So I’m not going to take this any differently.”

Locker replaced Matt Hasselbeck early in the second quarter of Saturday’s 27-17 loss at Seattle. Four of his first six passes were incomplete, but he followed with five straight completions as he drove the team to a field goal in the final minute of the first half.

His completion percentage for the night (53.8) was only slightly better than he had in limited action during the 2011 regular season (51.5).

“I think when you look at Saturday’s performance the one thing we didn’t really well was put the ball in the end zone when we got in the red zone,” he said. “We were able to move the ball but we were settling for three points rather than seven. Finding ways to punch it in and score touchdowns instead of field goals, I think, will be a good focus for us.”

Hasselbeck, a 14th-year veteran, will replace Locker, although Munchak said it is likely that change won’t be made until at least well into the second quarter.

“I remember the first time I got to start a preseason game,” Hasselbeck said. “It was awesome. I actually didn’t know early in the week.”

Locker, on the other hand, has several days to prepare. Just don’t expect him to get worked up about it.

“It wasn’t as big a decision as it may have to be at this point,” Locker said. “I think it’s more just an extension of what we’ve done in practice. If you’ve watched practice it’s the same thing. We’ve been rotating with the ones and twos — who starts the drill and who comes in second in the drill. So I think it’s more of that rather than something because of one guy’s performance or another guy’s performance.

“I think that it’s awesome. It’s great to have the opportunity. I’m excited about it.”