NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Receiver Nate Washington said Tuesday that Titans quarterback Jake Locker's ability to throw go routes and backup QB Charlie Whitehurst's knowledge of where receivers are supposed to go the rest of the time have stood out in the early days of Tennessee's offseason program.
The Titans began a voluntary segment of workouts last week, taking advantage of a two-week extension granted to NFL teams with new head coaches, but Ken Whisenhunt and his staff are not yet allowed to take the field. Players are permitted to go through workouts led by strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson and do some on-field activity.
Washington said he's impressed with all that Locker is doing as he recovers from surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury on his right foot. Locker said last week that he's not doing dropback passing but is able to throw from a stationary position at this point.
"He's throwing go routes standing still. The guy is amazing," Washington said. "I have a good friend in Santonio Holmes that had the same Lisfranc problem in his foot and when I talked to him when it initially happened with Jake, (Holmes) told me that he was still struggling three years later. I'm watching Jake put on cleats, coming out and throwing and giving everything he has. Is he running yet? No, you'd be a fool to tell yourself that he should even be there, but seeing his positive attitude is going to help us. It's going to make sure that we're working right now in order to be prepared for a great guy to come back to lead us."
Washington said Whitehurst has been a non-coach teacher of the offensive system that Whisenhunt used last season as San Diego's offensive coordinator where Whitehurst backed up Philip Rivers for the sixth of his eight previous pro seasons.
"He knows the offense and is kind of scripting us on how the routes should be run because, due to the period of it being this early (in the offseason program), the coaches aren't allowed to come out, so he's kind of like the coach out there right now," Washington said. "He knows the offense and is something we need right now. Being without coaches, you're kind of blind to go out and throw routes and don't know how they're supposed to be scripted, so to have him out there is definitely beneficial. He's a good guy in the locker room. We're happy to have him and everything he can do to help us, I'm pretty sure he'll do."
Washington previously played for Whisenhunt 2005-06 when the coach was Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator. The receiver said he thinks the staff will capitalize on different talents of each player.
"We probably aren't even a quarter of the way through the playbook, but the things we've touched on give you nothing but excitement in your heart to make sure you go out this offseason and take care of the things to get the success that can come from them," Washington said.
Preparing for his 10th pro season and coming off his first as a captain, Washington said offensive success in 2014 is a shared responsibility.
"The thing that I feel about Jake, I don't like how much of the responsibility is just put on him. Whether he's healthy or not, it's going to take this offense," Washington said. "It's going to take our offensive line blocking for him, our receivers being in the right position at the time that he needs us to be there, it's going to take our running backs blocking and doing whatever they need to do on the back end to make sure he's healthy. This is not just a Jake thing. I'm excited about Jake getting back healthy, watching his work ethic, watching him come in here, and hearing his attitude, so for the fans or critics that may be sitting around and telling themselves, 'This is a big year for Jake Locker,' this is a big year for all of us.
"This is a big year for the Tennessee Titans offense to go out and show that we're behind the guy 110 percent and although he's had some rough times in the beginning, we're going to be here this offseason," he continued. "He's a good, positive-attitude guy and he's going to work his tail off and we're going to be here with him."