Jake Locker has been cleared for contact, Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak told reporters Thursday. Locker returned to practice Wednesday, albeit in a limited fashion, for the first time since suffering knee and hip injuries in Week 4 against the New York Jets.
News of Locker's return to the practice field is encouraging for the Titans. For now, it appears that Ryan Fitzpatrick will remain the starting quarterback, at least through this Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers. Though no decision has officially been announced, Locker is still wearing a brace on his right knee, and sported a noticeable limp while going through seven-on-seven and full-team drills Thursday, per USA Today.
Locker's season was off to a solid start prior to his injuries. On the season, he is completing 62.2 percent of his passes for 721 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions through four game appearances. Fitzpatrick has not been able to replicate Locker's efficiency. He is completing just 52.6 percent of his passes, with four interceptions to only two touchdowns in three game appearances.
A healthy Locker obviously gives the Titans the best chance to win on Sunday, but I wonder if rushing him back could stifle the progress he's made this season.
Let's not forget that this will be Brian Schwenke's first game at center as well in the NFL. I personally like the idea of Schwenke getting his first live action without the franchise's future directly behind him.