Locker, Koenen gearing up for another NFL season

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 23, 2013 

Though they're busy planning their annual youth football camp and the new Friday Night Lights Flag Football game this weekend, NFL training camp is only weeks away for Ferndale alums Jake Locker and Michael Koenen.

For Locker, that will mean a big change in 2013.

Unlike the first two years since he was the No. 8 overall selection by the Tennessee Titans, Locker will enter training camp knowing that he will be the starter when the Tennessee Titans open the regular season Sept. 8 at Pittsburgh with former Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck no longer on the roster.

"It's the first year I'm going into the whole process knowing it's my job," Locker said in a phone interview. "It's exciting, but it's a little different."

Locker actually earned the starting assignment coming out of training camp in 2012, and ended up starting 11 games last season, as injury kept him sidelined for five games. He threw for 2,176 yards and 10 touchdowns. He completed 177 of 314 attempts, threw 11 interceptions and had a 74.0 quarterback rating.

"I think I had my good and my bad last year," Locker said. "The great thing is I got to sit down and go through it all and review and analyze. I think you learn more from the bad than you do the good. It's a matter of taking those things and owning your mistakes and finding ways to fix them and finding where your weaknesses are and how to fix them. That's been my goal this offseason."

Koenen also will be entering his third season as the punter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, after he spent his first six years after graduating from Western Washington University with Atlanta.

"It's good to be getting back to work," Koenen said after finishing up Tampa's organized training activities earlier this month. "I've been doing a little bit of a beefing up operation of my own, doing some work on the farm and doing some lifting there. I'm getting my farm strength in."

Koenen, who averaged a career-best 45.3 yards on 76 punts in 2013, said he will again likely just focus on punting duties, rather than place kicking, except in emergencies. Last year he had 22 punts stop inside the opponent's 20 while kicking only six into the end zone for touchbacks.

This year, both Koenen and Locker will get to return to Washington for regular season games.

The Titans are scheduled to visit CenturyLink Field on Oct. 13, while the Buccaneers play in Seattle on Nov. 3.

"I'm excited to come back," Koenen said. "This will be my third time I've come back and played. I've always enjoyed it. You see a lot of faces you grew up with. It's always fun to come back home and see family."

While Koenen twice previously came back while with Atlanta, this will be Locker's first regular-season visit to Seattle, though he did return for a preseason game last summer.

"I think we'll test some loyalty of friends and family," Locker joked. "We'll see which side they really root for. It's got a reputation of being a tough stadium to play in on the road. That's the way it was in the preseason, but I'm really looking forward to it. It's always neat to come home and play in front of people you know."

Reach David Rasbach at david.rasbach@bellinghamherald.com or 360-715-2286.

Reach DAVID RASBACH at david.rasbach@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2271.

Bellingham Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service