Titans still have no clear picture of when Locker will return

Monday, October 22, 2012 at 4:56pm

Mondays are not just about the study of game film for Jake Locker. Not since the Tennessee Titans quarterback sustained a separated left shoulder twice in the first four games, that is.

It also is the day that he has a fresh set of pictures taken on the joint. In that case it is the team’s doctors, trainers and coaches who study and discuss them and decide whether they like what they see.

“They’ll do that every week because you can see more of the healing that way,” coach Mike Munchak said. “Then we’ll take it from there.”

Until there comes a time that the weekly MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is not needed, Locker is not likely to see himself on any of the game film.

Results of this week’s exam were not available Monday afternoon but Munchak said he “would assume” the starter Sunday against Indianapolis (noon, CBS) would be Matt Hasselbeck.

It will be the fourth consecutive start for Hasselbeck, who has helped the Titans to consecutive victories for the first time this season. His 15-yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington with 1:03 to play Sunday provided the difference in a 35-34 victory over Buffalo.

“[The MRI] will tell a little bit more about that whole process,” Locker said. “… I’m getting better. I continue to progress and I feel better every day.”

Thus far, Locker has been evaluated on a week-to-week basis. He took a significant step last week when he threw balls in practice for the first time since he was sacked in the opening quarter of a loss at Houston on Oct. 30. He took part in portions of the workouts Wednesday and Thursday but was held out Friday.

The hope is that he will be cleared for some contact this week, which would allow him to throw from the pocket.

“Once we talk to the doctors and get a chance to talk to Jake and see how his exam went then we’ll see how much … further we can take it starting [Tuesday] and Wednesday and then we’ll know more,” Munchak said. “So we’ll see where he’s at. He feels that he’s getting much better. He is. He’s gotten better each week, each day, which is all positive stuff.

“… We just have to take it one step at a time and be smart about it. That’s what we’re doing.”

Hasselbeck completed 22 of 33 passes for 205 yards with one touchdown against the Bills. His passer rating of 93.6 was his highest of the season. It was also his first start of 2012 in which he did not throw an interception.

“I thought he played awesome, especially this last week he just put our team in great situations all day and came through with the big play at the end to win the game for us,” Locker said. “It’s not surprising at all. It’s what he’s been doing his whole career.

“I just happen to be on the same team as him now.”

That means only one of them can play at a time. Munchak insists that it will be Locker, once the Monday images show that he is ready.

“It’s just a lot of speculation of where he’s at and timing and guessing what week it will be,” Munchak said. “We just don’t know. When he’s ready to play, like I’ve said, he’ll be the guy playing.

“For Jake, everything is moving along the way it should and he should be able to play, hopefully, sooner than later.”

Briefly

• Michael Roos’ status for the Indianapolis game is uncertain because the left tackle underwent an appendectomy Monday.

The eighth-year veteran has not missed a game — or a start — in his NFL career. He played right tackle as a rookie in 2005 and has been the left tackle ever since.

If he cannot play, Mike Otto will start in his place.

• Linebacker Zac Diles, who started in place of Colin McCarthy on Sunday, will be placed on injured reserve because of a broken leg. He was credited with two tackles against the Bills before he was injured.

The team planned to conduct workouts with free agent linebackers and to sign at least one.

McCarthy, who has missed all or part of five games with a high ankle sprain, is expected to play against the Colts.