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Jake Locker no longer in Tennessee Titans' plans

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Barring an injury to or a faceplant from rookie Zach Mettenberger, Jake Locker has likely started his last game for the Tennessee Titans.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt confirmed Thursday that Mettenberger will be under center Sunday versus the Houston Texans.

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

Whisenhunt conceded the team is seeking a spark to snap out of its early-season malaise. Starting Mettenberger the rest of the way will provide plenty of game film to dissect as the front office decides whether to invest an early-round draft pick in a quarterback next offseason.

Locker could have avoided the hook had he stayed off the injury report. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that the team isn't confident Locker's thumb will stay healthy if he continues to play.

It's no surprise that Locker's leash was so short. His obvious physical tools will always intrigue NFL coaches, but he seemed to take two steps back for every step forward in his development as a pocket-passer.

Even during the high times when the Titans were encouraged by his progress, the front office realized it was becoming folly to count on him as the face of the franchise when he simply couldn't stay healthy for 16 games.

Locker will be free to walk in March, as the team declined his 2015 option.

We suspect he will draw more interest than fellow 2011 first-round flop Christian Ponder, but he's still earmarked for the "bridge" quarterback brigade, joining the likes of Matt Cassel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Orton, Michael Vick and perhaps even Sam Bradford.

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