Locker is clearly the quarterback of the future in Tennessee. It's easy to see why fans and coaches may want to see him on the field as soon as possible, but the best direction for the long-term future of the franchise is to take a conservative approach with Locker.
The Titans quarterback dislocated his left shoulder against the Houston Texans. While the shoulder is his non-throwing shoulder, it does take away Locker's mobility and leaves him susceptible to re-injury if he tries to expedite the recovery process.
The Titans have taken a step in the right direction, as head coach Mike Munchak has confirmed that Locker won't be starting this Sunday's game in Minnesota and Matt Hasselbeck will be assuming the starting role.
#Titans coach Mike Munchak said Jake Locker will not start at Minnesota this week. Matt Hasselbeck will start.— Tennessee Titans (@tennesseetitans) October 3, 2012
The good news is that the Titans have one of the most proven backups in the NFL. Hasselbeck is by no means a long-term solution at 37 years old, but he's one of the best stopgaps in the league.
The Titans offense will have to shift to a more conservative approach with Hasselbeck at the helm, but they can still be effective. With Chris Johnson finally showing signs of life, the transition shouldn't be nearly as bad for Tennessee.
Munchak seems to be handling the situation correctly, telling the Seattle Times that they will evaluate the situation on a "day by day" basis after confirming that he wouldn't be the starter this week.
However, Munchak needs to be prepared for whatever happens. According to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, Hasselbeck suffered a similar injury during his career and was forced to have surgery eventually.
Hasselbeck said he had same shoulder injury Locker had earlier in career. Hasselbeck eventually had surgery. Said Locker's injury is worse— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) October 3, 2012
If Hasslebeck's assertion is true, Locker should seriously consider allowing this injury to make a full recovery before hitting the field again. Playing through pain is noble, but the Titans would much rather deal with the injury now rather than continue to have it become a recurring issue.
The Titans need to consider the future of the franchise when setting a timetable for Locker's return.