NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Player-owners are a thing of the past in the NFL, but Titans quarterback Jake Locker wants ownership of Tennessee's offense.
In preparing for his fourth pro season, the QB has often talked about the importance of comfort level with the system and the confidence it can yield.
Locker is working with his third offensive coordinator (Jason Michael) and quarterbacks coach (John McNulty) as the Titans install new coach Ken Whisenhunt's system. He said being able to participate in Tennessee's organized team activity practices have helped him grasp parts of the system quicker than in the past, particularly with what he'll be expected to do at the line of scrimmage.
"Surprisingly, I feel like I have been able to have ownership of parts of it quicker than I have other things in the past," Locker said. "I'm feeling really confident with making protection changes and calls. I'm feeling really confident with making some dummy calls here and there and doing things like that that I hadn't been as comfortable doing before. There is a lot of stuff, but the way we've gone about it has really kind of allowed you to move quickly with it."
The Titans are in the second of three weeks of voluntary OTA practices that are leading up to a mandatory minicamp that is scheduled for June 17-19 before breaking until the start of training camp in late July. Tennessee added red zone situations Monday after concentrating on first and second down scenarios in its first open OTA practice May 27.
Whisenhunt emphasized that the Titans have plenty of work ahead of them to try to catch up to teams that did not have coaching changes. He said he's liked the approach that Locker and other players have shown toward learning the new offense and defense but wants to keep progressing through the systems before the minicamp.
"I think one of the things you have to make sure they understand is we're going to install more things," Whisenhunt said. "That doesn't mean you can forget about what we did last week, so the pressure is going to continue to build on them to perform as we put more and more things in, and the ones that are successful in it, they're the ones that are going to get the opportunities."
Locker's third pro season and second as Titans starter included the best start of his career. He completed 69 of 111 passes (62.2 percent) for 721 yards and six touchdowns and committed zero turnovers in helping Tennessee open 3-1. Locker suffered hip and knee sprains in Week 4 that knocked him from that game and the next two starts. He returned to start the next three games but suffered a Lisfranc injury Nov. 10 that sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Locker was able to return ahead of the projected timetable to participate in the team periods of the OTAs, accelerating his opportunity to take the reins and learn the system by enacting it on the field.
"I've just been able to find a rhyme and reason to things we're doing," Locker said. "It hits my brain a certain way and I've had a comfort level with it. I've still got a long way to go and a lot of work to do within it, but I'm just excited about what we've been able to do and where we've been able to go as a group thus far."