Chris Palmer continues to say that rookie Jake Locker potentially could be the Tennessee Titans starting quarterback this season, possibly as soon as the first game.
In a conference call Thursday with season ticket holders (Palmer and defensive coordinator Jerry Gray each did one for roughly 30 minutes), the offensive coordinator said he was in a similar situation in 1993 when he was with the New England Patriots.
“We drafted Drew Bledsoe and we brought in a guy named Scott Secules, … we traded with Miami to get him,” Palmer said. “Our plan was for Scott to hold the fort until Bledsoe was ready. Ten days into camp, it was very clear to the players, the coaches [and] the fans that Bledsoe was our best quarterback.”
Bledsoe appeared in 13 games that season and started 12 as the Patriots went 5-11, an improvement of three victories over the previous season.
That is not to say that Palmer is prepared to give the job right now to the eighth overall pick in April’s draft, particularly since the lockout imposed by the owners in March has prohibited Locker from taking part in a formal professional workout.
Plus, the Titans still plan to have some veteran competition for Locker.
“I think our pro personnel people and [General Manager] Mike Reinfeldt are working on bringing in a veteran quarterback,” Palmer said. “Who that guy’s going to be, it is to early to say.
“… [Choosing a starter is] going to come down to performance, like any of the positions. … I think it will be a situation that will play itself out. If it doesn’t play itself out, then you’re really behind the 8-ball.”
If it is Locker, Palmer said he and the rest of the staff would try to make things as simple as possible for the rookie by simplifying the scheme, if necessary.
“As this lockout continues, we may have to pare down some of the things we do but I don’t think it will affect our play on the field,” Palmer said. “When they’re ready to play, they’re ready to play.
“… You want it where it’s nice and clear and a guy jumps out ahead of everybody and you go, ‘He’s our guy.’ … I think with time it will all play out.”
Other highlights from Palmer’s time on the line included:
• Despite a spate of legal issues, wide receiver Kenny Britt remains a part of the Titans’ plans for the coming season.
“Kenny Britt is an excellent player and we’re looking for him to continue to grow,” Palmer said.
• One major difference Titans fans — not to mention opponents — can expect under the new coaching staff is that the screen pass will be a prominent part of the scheme.
“One of the things that [head coach] Mike Munchak mandated to me was that we work on our screen game and try to get good at that,” Palmer said. “We probably have put in 15-16 screens that we have in our playbook right now. Those will be plays that we drill in camp and try to get ready for the season.
“… We do have a bunch of screens and we will show some of them this year.”
• Most of the changes he has made to the playbook involve the passing game and the way those plays are called.
“I think there will be about 50 percent new and about 50 percent from past years,” he said. “I think the run game will still pretty much be intact, as far as verbiage is concerned. The passing game is going to be a little bit different.”