FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- After seven practices working against themselves on offense and defense, the Tennessee Titans got their first real taste of how they stack up against an opponent when they traveled here this week to practice against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Titans did things the hard way in getting to the Falcons' training facility, making a five-hour bus trek by leaving on Sunday evening about two hours after they finished practice, arriving late and getting up early for a walk-through before the afternoon scrimmage.
That was by design, as coach Ken Whisenhunt wanted to put some obstacles in his team's way to help get them ready for what they will likely face on the road this season.
"This is really our first road trip. We don't go to New Orleans for almost two weeks, but we get a road trip in advance, and that's good," Whisenhunt said on Sunday afternoon before the trip. "It's a very good assessment of (how they will react). We talked about that earlier in camp. It's gonna be tough, but it's gonna be tough later in the season. Hopefully, we'll be in a big game where we've got to go on the road and win, and hopefully this will lay the foundation for that."
Once the Titans arrived, Whisenhunt liked some of what he saw. Watching mostly his offense operate against the Falcons defense, the new Titans coach was pleased with the efforts of quarterback Jake Locker.
Whisenhunt and his staff have worked hard this offseason not only to get Locker back healthy from a foot injury in 2013, but they have worked on his mechanics, shortening his stride and making his footwork more consistent. It appears to be working thus far, as many of the high and wide throws that plagued Locker at times early in his career have seemingly been eliminated.
Whisenhunt voiced his pleasure with Locker's play throughout camp, and the quarterback took another step toward success on Monday, showing accuracy and hitting the deep ball fairly often against the Falcons.
"I thought he did well," Whisenhunt said of Locker moving the offense. "He moved in the pocket well and made some good throws. Some of the protection things, we've got to get better on as a group, but he made some big plays. He made some good throws from the pocket with pressure on him that were big plays."
Locker connected on some deep throws to Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright during the course of practice.
"I thought we did a good job," Locker said. "We need to clean up a few things here and there. ... For the most part, we took advantage of an opportunity to get the ball down the field a little bit and we made some plays,"
Locker said it was good to go against some different looks and have some success against it. It also can be used now as a learning tool for future reference.
"It was fun. It was high intensity and it was a good opportunity to go against some looks we hadn't seen yet," he said. "It'll be awesome to go back and look at the tape and see what we saw and, hopefully, we'll be a little more prepared for them when we see them throughout the course of the season."
Locker's next test comes Saturday in the preseason opener when the Green Bay Packers come to LP Field.