Jake Locker: Injury to Young QB Won't Derail Titans' Offense

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 30:  Jake Locker #10 of the Tennessee Titans is helped up by Tennessee Titans medical staff after he took a hard hit from Glover Quin #29 of the Houston Texans at Reliant Arena at Reliant Park on September 30, 2012 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Losing second-year quarterback Jake Locker to another left shoulder injury is hardly ideal for the Tennessee Titans. Still, it's not the end of the world for the 1-3 team.

That's because Locker's backup, Matt Hasselbeck, is one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league.

Yes, he was a bit rusty when he came on in relief against the Houston Texans on Sunday. Hassbelbeck threw for two touchdowns but also turned the ball over three times. However, it's not as if the team is now turning to some unproven player or unappealing journeyman.

And what's more, even if Hasselbeck does struggle, the team might be able to turn to the running game in his stead.

Yes, you just read that correctly. I said the Titans—the team ranked 29th in rushing offense this season and starting fantasy football's biggest bust since the 2011 season, Chris Johnson—can turn to the running game. I swear, I'm not crazy. 

Well, not certifiably so, at least.

Johnson finally looked like an NFL running back against the Texans, and a pretty good one at that. He rushed 25 times for 141 yards and also caught two passes for 16 yards, perhaps the only silver lining in a 38-14 loss.

If the Titans can keep him going consistently, and the team can manage to still be in a game by halftime, the Titans should at least compete.

Here's the thing: Locker was never going to lift this team to new heights this season. He's still a work-in-progress himself, and this season was always going to be about him gaining experience and learning to play the position. 

He wasn't going to help them overcome the early disappearance of Johnson and the running game. He wasn't going to lead them to many shootout wins when the defense decided to take a few quarters off (though props for the win over the Detroit Lions). 

So no, you don't need to suddenly hide away your fantasy players on the Titans because Locker has gone down. Johnson remains a frustrating guy you probably can't afford to sit. Nate Washington and Kenny Britt will remain intriguing flex plays in certain weeks. Who knows, maybe Jared Cook will even get a fantasy boost?

So fear not, Titans fans, for if Locker does miss a lot of time to injury, it shouldn't affect your team too much. Sure, the Titans aren't making the playoffs anytime soon, but they won't suddenly become the weakest team in the league, either. 


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