Tennessee Titans' Jake Locker says pain after surgery isn't bad except when sleeping

10:18 AM, Jan 24, 2013   |    comments
Titans quarterback Jake Locker (10) calls at play in the huddle in the first quarter of their game against the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium Friday, Aug. 17, 2012 in Tampa, Fl. (GEORGE WALKER IV / THE TENNESSEAN)
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By Jim Wyatt, The Tennessean

Jake Locker is adjusting to life with one good arm, one wink at a time.

Two weeks after surgery on his left shoulder, the Titans quarterback is still sleeping in a recliner or on a couch, sitting up. He sleeps six hours a night, if he's lucky.

Simple daily activities he took for granted, he now fully appreciates.

"My pain level, I feel fine with it. It doesn't hurt too bad," Locker said Wednesday from Ferndale, Wash. "It's just getting used to not being able to use one arm. It's kind of a shock to the system. And the trying to sleep at night, that's the worst part. It's been awful."

Locker isn't sitting around moping, however. On Wednesday he accompanied his brother-in-law to-be on a duck-hunting trip and was in charge of directing Tuff, the 1½-year-old Labrador he's been training. The day was a success even though Locker never picked up a gun.

"He was 4-for-4," he said of Tuff. "He went and got them all and brought them back, so we didn't have to move from where we were. ... It's just fun for me just to get out of the house and take my mind off things."

Locker had surgery in Nashville to repair his twice dislocated non-throwing shoulder and a broken bone at the front of the shoulder.

He expects to be in a sling until he sees his doctor again in about a month. In the meantime, he's working with physical therapists to maintain range of motion.

When doctors clear him for more activity, Locker said he plans to return to Nashville and continue rehab at Baptist Sports Park. He hopes to be ready for minicamps in June.

"Everything went like they hoped it would," Locker said of the surgery. "I feel great, I'm feeling awesome, really. ... I'm supposed to make a full recovery and have a strong shoulder. If all goes well, I shouldn't have to miss anything with the team."

Locker went 4-7 in 2012, his first season as an NFL starter. He admitted his shoulder bothered him almost the entire time.

He dislocated it in the season opener, then again in the fourth game and missed the next five games. The shoulder continued to go in and out on its own "pretty close to every game" in November and December, he said.

"It got to the point where it really wasn't that painful," he said. "It just happened."

Locker refused to blame the injury for a season when he fell short of expectations and the Titans finished 6-10. He threw 10 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and posted a 56.4 percent completion rate.

"It's part of the game, and you have to learn to play as good as you do with (an injury) as you do without," Locker said. "If you are good enough to be on the field, it is not an excuse for why things didn't go as good as you wanted them to."

Since the surgery, Locker has caught up on episodes of "Duck Dynasty," but he said he's also watched a lot of game film in hopes of figuring out how to correct some flaws.

He's kept up with changes to the coaching staff as well. The most significant development for Locker: Coach Mike Munchak kept Dowell Loggains as offensive coordinator and moved Dave Ragone from receivers coach to quarterbacks coach.

Loggains called the last five games of 2012 after Munchak fired Chris Palmer.

"I am very comfortable with what Dowell likes system-wise,'' Locker said. "We have a really good working relationship as far as dialogue and being able to talk to one another and feel out where each of us is, and I think that is important."

Locker also likes the move with Ragone, a former NFL and college quarterback.

"Dave is a great guy and I think he is a really good young coach, so I am excited about the opportunity to work with him," he said. "He has a good idea of what it is like to stand in the pocket, and I think that is always a benefit for a coach.

"All the stuff we have done, I believe in our coaching staff and our organization and the decisions they make."

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