We know he's number two on the depth chart right now, we also know he probably won't be there for too long, and we know there are definitely some things we'd like him to work out before he moves to number one, but what we don't know is when Jake Locker is going to get his first start. At this point it's basically impossible to know when he'll be bumped up for his first taste of action as a starter, largely based on the fact that we've never seen him play in a game situation. That should change soon, presumably in the Titans' rapidly approaching first preseason game, but the preseason is a whole different world than the regular season, just ask Lavelle Hawkins.
Much of your answer will likely come from whether or not you think that an extended period of time riding the pine will or will not benefit his development as a player. At first, I was a big proponent of letting him sit this year out for the most part. I was pretty unconvinced that this team was going nowhere this year as far as the playoffs go. Based on this, I thought that the team should just stick with Matt Hasselbeck (at that time, Kerry Collins) as the starter for at least the first ten or so games. Jake has never struck me as a quarterback that was polished enough to play immediately.
I still hold most of those beliefs, but I'm also willing to accept the fact that early playing time just might be okay for our young superstar in the making. The more I think about the parallels between Locker and Freeman and then between Freeman and McNair, I get goosebumps imagining the crushed souls of Jaguars fans after they realize they got the wrong guy. Now, in this case, I'll cite precedent as opposed to opinion. Josh Freeman started ten games for the Bucs in 2009. We've been over this before, we've noted that he's a similar college player with a comparable skill set, that's a pretty rough idea of what I think we're working with here. I'll bring out a new player to compare to: Michael Vick.
Vick's not as good of a comparison as Freeman in my opinion because of the downright ridiculous, once in a generation running ability that he possessed coming out of college, but this is a player who suffered from accuracy issues and, shockingly, a large lack of production at the college level, two concerns that plagued Locker as we all know. I don't think Jake's as much of a "run first" player like Vick was and to an extent, still is, but the skill sets overlap as do the statistics. Vick started two games in his rookie year, seeing action in eight.
Upon further review, I'd still like to see Locker be used in more of a way that Vick was in his rookie year. I'm basing this only on what I think would be good for Locker from a developmental standpoint. The trend these days is to throw the young QBs into the fire, and so far it's actually worked pretty well in the modern era, but like I've said before, Locker is not cut from the same mold that Ryan, Bradford, and Flacco are.
So based on what we know right now, not a whole helluva lot, give me either an estimation or a preference on when you'd like to Jake start for the first time.