Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker hasn't completed a pass since September 23, and he's missed his team's last five games with a dislocated non-throwing shoulder. But he's apparently ready to take back the controls of the Titans' offense. Doctors have cleared him to return, and he's expected to draw the start in Week 10, at Miami.
Locker's team has a bye in Week 11, so you might have reasonably thought he'd continue to rest, but the coaching staff wants to get him back on the field (and get Matt Hasselbeck off of it) as quickly as possible:
"There is really no advantage to waiting until after the bye because there will be a longer period of time since he's actually played in the game," [head coach Mike] Munchak said. "Jake is very determined. His mind-set is he could have played last week if we would have let him. He has been ready mentally."
There's no obvious reason for fantasy owners to fear Miami's pass defense at the moment, as they're allowing 298.3 yards per game, ranking 30th in the league. Locker has a few decent match-ups on the schedule after bye as well (Week 12 at Jacksonville, Week 14 at Indy), so he could prove useful for fantasy purposes, as could Kenny Britt & Co.
If the Titans lose another game the way they lost to the Bears in Week 9, I believe they risk relegation to the Sun Belt conference. No pressure, Jake.
• With both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson sidelined by high-ankle sprains, Taiwan Jones is getting first-team practice snaps. Predictably, Carson Palmer is raving about the kid:
"I feel like I've been waiting forever (for Jones to play a bigger role). I can't wait. He does amazing things in practice and he's by far the fastest person on the field and he will be the fastest person on the field on Sunday. And not that you want to see guys get banged up, but I'm excited about the opportunity he's getting… I mean, he's so electrifying. He puts his foot in the ground and goes. He wiggles out of hits, he wiggles out of tackles. Can't wait to throw him the ball, get him in the open field. He's so much fun to watch at practice it's, like I said, a long time coming."
But Carson specializes in ludicrously over-the-top propaganda, so let's try not to get carried away. Just know that Jones figures to have a not-insignificant role against Baltimore on Sunday. Marcel Reece will clearly be a factor, too. Reece is a terrific receiving option, certainly a less erratic/reckless player than Jones.
• Here's some decent news about Rashard Mendenhall's long-range value, if not necessarily his short-range value. Do what you need to do. I'm gonna try to not get too bullish about Mendenhall, as he's burned us once already. Badly. Terribly. Unforgivably.
• Donald Brown (knee) might give it a go this week, but Vick Ballard is still the Colts back you'll want to start (if you have to start one). Consider stashing Brown for later use, however, as he still has match-ups upcoming with Buffalo, Tennessee and KC.
• For what it's worth, Pierre Thomas saw more snaps last week (21) than either Mark Ingram (18) or Chris Ivory (13). But we're headed to a run-off because no one reached 50 percent. Also, Ingram looked terrific, gaining 67 total yards on his nine touches. Ivory poached a touchdown, because sometimes fantasy life just isn't fair. Thomas was dragged down at the 1-yard line on Monday, on a play that could have partially saved my week. So it goes.
• Aaron Hernandez (ankle) practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday, which seems like a good sign. It's the Patriots, of course, so we never really know. Maybe they're using decoys.
• DeMarco Murray actually WORE A HELMET TODAY! Almost like a real football player! Unfortunately, it sounds like he'll be limited to individual drills. Don't get too excited, gamers. Seems like we're still aiming for Week 11 vs. Cleveland.