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Zach Mettenberger to start at QB for Tennessee Titans

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The Tennessee Titans are ready to make a change at quarterback, and that doesn't bode well for the future of Jake Locker with the organization.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt told reporters Thursday that rookie Zach Mettenberger will start Sunday against the Houston Texans. Locker missed the previous two games with a thumb injury, but he returned to practice this week and appeared on track to start.

"We're going with Zach and we're going to stay with Zach," Whisenhunt said.

Whisenhunt said Sunday after Tennessee's loss to Washington that he expected Locker to play this week and that the starting job was his when healthy. That has changed.

It's a big decision for the franchise. Locker was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2011 draft, but he's struggled to stay healthy as a pro. His play on the field has been up and down, with flashes of real promise.

The Titans gave Mettenberger additional first-team reps at practice Wednesday, where Locker was not made available to the media for the first time all year, according to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. Whitehurst said he was not allowed to talk to reporters.

The Titans don't know if Locker's thumb will fully be healthy, and they don't see Whitehurst as a long-term solution, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports. The Titans declined Locker's fifth-year option and he's set to be a free agent following this season.

The team wants to see how good Mettenberger is in order to know whether to draft a quarterback in the first round next year. The Titans believe they'll get more big plays with Mettenberger, and live with the mistakes.

In short: It's Mettenberger's job to lose now.

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