QB Jake Locker returns to practice

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- With a sleeve and a knee brace on his right leg, Tennessee Titans starting quarterback Jake Locker returned to limited practice on Wednesday.

Still, the team is planning on Ryan Fitzpatrick starting his third consecutive game since Locker sprained his hip and knee in a Sept. 29 win against the New York Jets.

"It's a long way from (what he did) to playing in a Sunday game," coach Mike Munchak said of Locker. "... We're not declaring anything, we're not saying he's out, but we're going forward like Ryan's starting. But we want to see how fast Jake comes along."

Locker participated in quarterback drills, some 7-on-7 and took a few snaps in a team period that typically would have gone to Rusty Smith, who's been working as the backup quarterback.

Munchak said it was a good start for Locker. How the QB feels Thursday will give the Titans a good gauge of his progress.

Locker's injury is more about the knee than the hip at this time, Munchak said. The coach added that the Titans' upcoming bye week is a factor in the team's thinking regarding Locker.

After their game Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, the Titans are off until Nov. 3 at St. Louis.

Whoever starts at quarterback against the 49ers will have a new piece to his protection.

The Tennessean in Nashville reported Tuesday that rookie fourth-round guard Brian Schwenke will take over for veteran Rob Turner on Sunday at LP Field.

Schwenke won't be eased in. The 49ers play Glenn Dorsey at nose tackle with two of the league's best inside linebackers behind him in Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. The Titans are determined to be a run-centered team, but Chris Johnson is averaging just 3.1 yards a carry and the team is tied for 17th in rushing offense.

Schwenke missed the bulk of training camp with a hamstring injury. Turner overtook incumbent Fernando Velasco for the starting job, and the Titans wound up keeping Chris Spencer as the interior backup over the more expensive Velasco, who ultimately wound up in Pittsburgh.