A clean bill of health will help.
Tennessee's young quarterback has shed his walking boot and moved to the next phase of recovery after Lisfranc surgery in November ended his third season in the league.
"Surgery went really well," Locker texted The Tennessean on Thursday. "Foot feels awesome and rehab is up and rolling. Doctors were happy with how things looked so (I'm) just continuing to follow that trend."
Locker is entering the final year of his rookie deal for a team unsold on picking up his $13 million, fifth-year option. He's under the gun to show a new coaching staff that he can stay on the field after missing 16 games over the past two seasons.
"You'd like to have a little bit more to evaluate," Whisenhunt said this week at the NFL Annual Meeting. "One of the things that I think is important when you're evaluating is, where was he three years ago and where was he this past season? And his play has improved."
Why should we believe in a rebound year for Locker?
Lisfranc injuries pose a tricky recovery, but the Titans have paved the way for the 25-year-old to keep his starting job after dumping Ryan Fitzpatrick for the woeful Charlie Whitehurst. In addition, the arrival of Whisenhunt gives Locker the benefit of a proven quarterback tutor who helped grow Ben Roethlisberger and turned around the play of Philip Rivers a season ago in a run-heavy attack.
The X-factor is May's draft, in which the Titans might opt for one of this year's rookie passers at the No. 11 spot. That would tell us everything we need to know about Whiz's evaluation of young Locker.