A weekly examination of the Tennessee Titans' quarterback play:
Rewind: Jake Locker continues to rehabilitate the right knee and right hip he sprained on Sept. 29 against the Jets. He returned for the team’s final game before the bye, but wasn’t completely back at peak performance.
Fast-forward: Locker ran three times against the 49ers, and looked like himself when he did so. The two times he could have slid, however, he went head-first. That was likely because of the mechanics of the knee brace and the chances of catching it on the field by sliding feet-first. We don’t yet know if he will be in the same brace, or a smaller version, Sunday in St. Louis. The Titans have long talked about how an effective run game would set Locker up for maximum success. The Rams are 23rd against the run, which is more favorable than the past three run defenses the Titans have faced: the Chiefs (11th), the Seahawks (15th) and the 49ers (14th).
Continuing curve: Locker showed steady progress through the Titans’ first four games, after which they were 3-1. Unfortunately he suffered his injuries halfway though the fourth game. He missed two games against tough defenses, and was part of a losing effort that dropped the Titans to 3-4. Now the Titans play a beatable opponent on the road. Locker has had extra time to get healthy. It would be huge for the Titans if he could plug back in where he left off before he got hurt against the Jets.
Prediction: I expect a solid game. But my big concern is the swarming tackles I saw the Rams make of Russell Wilson in the loss to the Seahawks. Locker is significantly bigger than Wilson. He’s also got much more of an injury history. The Titans need their running backs to do the bulk of the running in order to help Locker protect himself.