Titans do have quarterbacks — just none with notable experience

Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 6:44pm

Kerry Collins’ retirement Thursday after a 16-year NFL career deprived the Tennessee Titans of an option at quarterback once the current lockout imposed by the owners ends.

It did not, however, take away a quarterback. Collins had played out the two-year contract he signed with Tennessee and was set to be a free agent with the resumption of business matters.

The Titans do have three quarterbacks under contract and/or in their plans (Vince Young of course will be released or traded at some point) for 2011 although their combined experience falls well short of what Collins accomplished on his own. In fact, they have exactly 176 fewer career stars that Collins, who had 177.

A look at the quarterbacks on the roster:

• Rusty Smith, 24, sixth-round draft pick 2010, Florida Atlantic

Smith was considered a project with real promise before circumstances forced him to start a game last November at Houston. He went 17-for-31 for 138 yards, was intercepted three times and — more importantly — did not exhibit the poise coaches wanted. He received no more game action after that.

Smith has seized upon the lockout and the coaching change to try to restore his good standing. By all accounts, he has been an active and leading participant in workouts organized by the players as they endeavor to stay in shape and as cohesive as possible.

• Brett Ratlff, 25, free agent 2011, Utah

Ratliff was signed to a futures contract less than a week after the conclusion of the 2010 regular season. He was not drafted out of college but has been in the league for three seasons — one with the New York Jets and one with Cleveland — but has yet to appear in a regular-season contest.

He has the size (6-foot-4, 224 pounds) to look the part. Whether team officials see him as someone who actually is in the mix for a roster spot or if he simply is an extra arm for training camp and the preseason (such as they will be) is unclear.

• Jake Locker, 23, first-round draft pick 2011, Washington

Locker is the only one of the group who is all but guaranteed to start in the NFL. Whether he can do enough, or whether the Titans can acquire a proven veteran between the end of the lockout and the start of the season will determine if his first start comes early this fall or if he must wait up to a year or more.

The franchise waited with both Steve McNair and Vince Young. But both came out a year early and neither played in a pro-style offense in college. Locker completed his eligibility and worked in a pro-style offense, which gives him a leg up.