Whisenhunt Names Zach Mettenberger Starting QB


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt has named rookie Zach Mettenberger the team's starting quarterback for Sunday's home game against the Houston Texans and going forward.

"We are going to go with Zach at QB this week," announced Whisenhunt, who notified all three quarterbacks -- Mettenberger, Jake Locker and Charlie Whitehurst -- mid-day Tuesday when the decision was made. "We were still waiting to see where Jake's hand was going to be as far as whether he was going to be the backup or not. We feel good after two good days of practice with Jake that he can do that. Unfortunately it (news) got out before we had the opportunity to announce it (on Thursday), but that's the order in which we're going to go from this point."

Mettenberger, who becomes the fourth rookie QB to start in the NFL this season, joins a growing list of rookies from Tennessee's 2014 draft class and other young, emerging players in the starting lineup. The Titans have been starting left tackle Taylor Lewan, linebacker Avery Williamson and running back Bishop Sankey with Mettenberger becoming the fourth of six draft picks to start this season.

"We feel like it's an opportunity to see what Zach can do just like a number of our younger players that have already started to contribute," Whisenhunt said. "We're looking forward to seeing where we go from here."

The Titans traded up in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft to select the Louisiana State signal caller (178th overall).

The 6-foot-5, 224-pound Mettenberger enjoyed a strong preseason, completing 47-of-68 passes (69.1 percent) for a league-leading 659 yards (9.7 avg.), two TDs and two INT's, good for a 97.6 passer rating.

His 47 preseason completions ranked third in the NFL, and he threw for more passing yards in a preseason than any of the franchise's quarterbacks in the Titans' era.

Mettenberger made his NFL regular season debut as a reserve in the fourth quarter of Tennessee's Week 4 matchup at Indianapolis, and had been backing up Locker and Whitehurst prior to this point.

"No question he's a talented, young player, and maybe it'll give us a spark," Whisenhunt said. "Offensively, we haven't exactly been lighting it up, so that's part of it in consideration."

A two-year starter for the Tigers, Mettenberger was twice named a permanent team captain by his LSU teammates for the 2012 and 2013 campaigns.

As a senior at LSU, Mettenberger completed 192 of 296 passes for 3,082 yards and 22 touchdowns and just eight interceptions, ranking second in the SEC in pass efficiency. He became just the third player in LSU history to pass for 3,000 yards in a season and was the only player in LSU history to have back-to-back seasons of 2,500 yards or more (threw for 2,609 yards in 2012).

Mettenberger's career numbers for the Tigers include 5,783 passing yards (No. 6 in LSU history), 35 touchdowns (No. 5 in LSU history), 407 completions (No. 6 in LSU history) and 659 attempts (No. 7 in LSU history).

Now he gets the chance to stake his claim in the NFL.

"By no means am I a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning," Mettenberger said after Thursday's practice. "This is going to be my first game, so really I just got to get the ball out of my hands quick, avoid turnovers and put the ball in the (hands of) guys who can make plays for us. Really that's the biggest thing a young guy's got to do."

Titans Online looks at the rookie season to date of rookie QB Zach Mettenberger, the team's sixth-round pick out of LSU in 2014. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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