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Jake Locker impresses as Tennessee Titans' starter

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Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak can breathe a little easier as Jake Locker's performance Thursday night was much better than the previous week's effort against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was a sign that the 2011 first-round draft pick out of Washington appears ready to be an NFL starting quarterback.

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Facing a very good Arizona Cardinals defense, Locker played into the third quarter, completing 11 of his 20 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Locker did not turn the ball over, and the one time he was sacked (for zero yards lost), the play was erased by offsetting penalties.

Locker's first touchdown pass came on a back-shoulder fade to rookie Kendall Wright. When thrown perfectly, the back-shoulder fade is indefensible, and Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson had no chance at stopping that route.

Touchdown No. 2 came when Locker hit Nate Washington on a 28-yard catch-and-run where the Titans were running shallow crossing routes and the Cardinals defender on Washington appeared to have been picked.

Locker needs to improve his accuracy, and a few dropped passes hurt his completion percentage Thursday night. Locker air-mailed a few balls and was bailed out on a throw by tight end Jared Cook, who made an insanely athletic play for a 35-yard gain on a drive that ended with a Rob Bironas field goal.

Perhaps the most impressive about Locker's performance last night was his pocket presence, stepping up into the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield and using his athleticism to avoid negative plays. Locker's teammates believe the second-year pro will only get better with experience.

"Jake did a great job," Titans wide receiver Damian Williams said, via Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. "He took what the defense gave us and made plays when he had to. Jake is one of those guys who is just going to keep getting better the more he plays."

Follow Brian McIntyre on Twitter @brian_mcintyre.
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