Titans players see bright future with Locker even as he works in the past

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 11:51pm

The future of the Tennessee Titans’ offense is stuck in the past.

Quarterback Jake Locker directed the offense at times during Wednesday’s collective workout, which attracted him and 39 of his teammates as well as other NFL players in the area.

The plays they ran, though, came from the old playbook, the one used by Jeff Fisher and offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, neither of whom are with the organization anymore.

“We just kind of came up with it off stuff they had in their offense last year,” Locker said. “I felt good. There were some new reads and some new terminology I have to get familiar with. We’re keeping it pretty simple and that allows me to think a little faster.”

Even with their limited capabilities and understanding, many veteran players say they look forward to the future with the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft.

“Thus far, my personal opinion, I feel like he’s a very smart guy, very intelligent,” running back Javon Ringer said. “He’s able to remember things quick and he has a good arm. We haven’t even seen him run yet. I’m looking forward to seeing him in action.”

For his part, Locker is eager to get to the point that Titans coaches are on the field with him, an impossibility at this point given the NFL lockout.

“It’s different when you don’t have coaches and you’re not out here getting taught the offense,” he said. “I’m sure that process will speed up and get a little more efficient when we get to that point. We’re just doing everything we can at this point.”

For now, though, what he does not know is tempered by how many players he now knows.

“It’s just creating relationships — getting to know them and letting them know what you’re about and who you are and spending time around them,” he said. “That’s kind of been my goal coming out here.

“It’s a lot of really good guys, a lot of guys that are easy to spend time with, are just generally nice people. So it’s awesome for me coming to an organization like that.”

Rough stuff: Players were not in any pads or helmets, and the only real moment of contact came when wide receiver Marc Mariani and safety Donnie Nickey both went up for a pass.

Mariani landed a bit awkwardly but ultimately was none the worse for wear.

“It’s just one of those bang-bang plays,” Mariani said. “That’s the game that we play. I know he’s a competitor. I was going for the ball. It happens. It’s going to happen a lot more times. … No big deal.”

Marketing opportunity: Father Ryan High School took full advantage of the fact that an inordinate number of local and national media outlets were on the campus.

Players were outfitted with Father Ryan football T-shirts, and an interview area was set up with a Father Ryan banner behind a podium that featured a Father Ryan logo on the front.

“Father Ryan has been so great to open their facilities to us,” cornerback Cortland Finnegan said. “It’s a welcoming place. They came out with open arms.”

Missing the point: Players allowed both ESPN and the NFL Network up-close access during the workout.

The choice with ESPN was understandable, given that network’s standing as a multi-media colossus and the power it wields within the sports world.

Their support of the NFL Network was odd, however, given that the outlet is owned and operated by the very league that has locked them out.