Titans, Locker finally step up production

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For a Tennessee Titans team that is on the spot to produce, Saturday night's effort against the Atlanta Falcons was a welcome sight.
The Titans finished last year 6-10 -- and probably were fortunate to win that many games given some of their performances. Through the first two preseason games, it looked as if nothing much had changed except for some faces added to the mix on both sides of the ball.
But in Saturday night's 27-16 victory over the Falcons, Tennessee's offense looked much sharper, with quarterback Jake Locker having a strong showing, going 11 of 13 for 133 yards and a touchdown.
Receiver Kenny Britt, who had dropped passes in the first two preseason games, had a couple of big grabs for first downs. Nate Washington had four catches for 70 yards and a score before exiting with a foot injury.
All in all, the Titans finally showed something that they can potentially build upon as they enter the 2013 season, looking for an offense beefed up with free agent acquisitions and filled with first-round picks to finally step up and produce consistently.
"It was how we wanted to play," Locker said after the victory.
"We came out and executed. We were able to continually move the ball and stack completions together. I think anytime you're able to do that, you give yourself a lot better chance of having the outcome we did tonight."
Coach Mike Munchak attributed some of the offense's success in preseason to the running game's rejuvenation as well. The Titans rolled up 171 yards on the ground against the Falcons on 36 rushes Saturday night.
"It's a big part of our success," Munchak said. "It's why we struggled last year. It seemed like it was third-and-8 or more way too often, and then it's put on the quarterback's lap to make something happen. I think the philosophy of the offense is different, and I think you'll see it evolve as we go into the season, and you'll start seeing some of that as we go into the season.
"I think you're seeing some of that now, and I think when you're having success running the ball and you're moving the pile in a positive way, you look up and it's second-and-6. ... I think we're a more physical football and you saw (Saturday) when people are trying to stop us, now we're getting 15, 18 and 20-yard completions down the field."
Locker said the Titans' play-action passing worked well.
He said the threat of the run opened up the passing game on play-action for Tennessee, something that the Titans will have to rely on and have their quarterback capitalize on, if they are to have success this season.
"The play-action game ... they really had to respect that," Locker said. "It opened some running lanes up and we were able to bust some big runs there in the second quarter and in the third. We played off of each other very well today and that's something that we hope to be able to continue to do going forward."
The plan for the Titans is not to put too much on Locker's plate, but try to put him in situations where he can have success and find winnable matchups when he needs to throw the football.
Munchak has been encouraged thus far.
"I think he just made some great throws," he said. "I thought the guys dropped the ball last week and we were doing some things we normally wouldn't do. It was great to see him, really just get better every week. This is the third week and he has gotten better with what we have had him doing since his first preseason game."

--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed material for this story.