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Monday, April 7, 2014
Is there a skill to staying healthy as a QB?

By Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In the last two seasons, Jake Locker has suffered shoulder, hip and knee and foot injuries that have cost him 14 of 32 starts.

There was a fluke element at play, for sure.

But it also showed that Locker lacks a certain quarterback trait that the best guys have: a knack for not getting hurt.

Locker
It sounds a little crazy to suggest there is such a thing, I know. But the best quarterbacks in the NFL find ways to stay in the lineup. And for Locker, or any other young guy, to have a chance to become a consistent, quality starter, he’s got to develop it.

“I think there is part of it that’s what you do in the offseason,” Locker said. “I’ve felt that I’ve always taken pride in keeping myself in good shape, keeping myself strong and setting myself up to best prevent those things. But sometimes, it’s outside of your control and there is nothing you can do about it.

“I think that continuing to follow that same path of keeping myself in shape and strengthening my body is going to be important for me. But at that point, once I get an opportunity to go out and play, it’s not worrying about that and just playing, What happens, happens.”

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he doesn’t know if staying healthy at quarterback is a skill.

“There are definitely some things with Jake that I think we can talk about with him being a little bit smarter,” Whisenhunt said. “Not lowering his shoulder and running a guy over. Now, let’s face it. If it’s fourth-and-1 and you’ve got to get the first down, this is football there is no substitute for that so you’ve got to do those things.

“But if it’s third-and-25 and he’s going to have a gain of 2 yards, then there is a time there – and I know I’m overdramatizing it – but there is maybe a time when you can scale that back. And those are things that we can talk about. But it’s a violent game, it’s a competitive game, and those high-level guys, they’re competitive.

“I guess the long answer to that it, we’re certainly going to look at that and try to make it more judicious in some of the physical plays that he makes.”

The shoulder injury was from a sack where Locker failed to adjust the protection and got buried when he didn’t feel Glover Quin coming in Houston. The knee/hip came on an incomplete pass when Locker was hit by Jets tackle Muhammad Wilkerson. The foot injury came on an option run against Jacksonville.

If Locker is going to successfully change his image as injury prone, he’ll have to do part of the work by developing a better feel for staying out of dangerous situations.