NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Quarterback Zach Mettenberger knows how to make an impression.
The former LSU signal-caller had his left ACL surgically repaired in January, yet he practiced along with his fellow Tennessee rookies in the first session of a three-day minicamp. Mettenberger took the first snap of the team drills, threw deep and completed the pass.
Not bad for a guy whose last team setting was Nov. 29 when he tore his ACL in LSU’s regular season finale against Arkansas.
Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said Mettenberger doesn’t seem affected by the injury. The coach also isn’t calling Mettenberger 100 percent healthy, and the quarterback from LSU is splitting the work in the rookie minicamp that ends Sunday with Drew Allen out of Syracuse.
“I’d still say he has some limitations and we’re trying to manage the different types of plays that he’ll have, not to put him in a bad situation,” Whisenhunt said. “You get a little worried when you have guys flying around like they were today that someone may fall on him or nix him. His knee is stable, I just think he needs some more strength and he’ll continue to work.”
Mettenberger said he’s just happy to get back to football after a drawn-out draft process. Projected as a second or third-round draft pick, the Titans selected him in the sixth round with concerns about his health and reports of a positive test at the NFL Combine.
He reported for work with the Titans on Monday and has spent plenty of time with the training staff. He wore a brace on his left knee and said he’s still not moving as fluidly as he has in the past.
“I’m full go,” Mettenberger said. “I’m not having any limitations on me right now. Just the training staff is trying to modify my workload just a little bit, so I don’t overwork it and stress it and have a major setback. With that being said, I’m doing everything I can and hopefully by training camp I’ll be ready to have those limitations taken off me.”
On paper, Mettenberger likely is competing with Tyler Wilson as the Titans’ No. 3 quarterback. General Manager Ruston Webster and Whisenhunt both have endorsed Jake Locker repeatedly as their starter, and Charlie Whitehurst was signed in March to help teach Locker the new coach’s offense.
Locker also is recovering from his own offseason surgery to repair his right foot, and he is expected on the field when the Titans start their on-field practices the final week of May.
The 6-foot-5, 224-pound Mettenberger certainly looked impressive in his first session, and Whisenhunt said he made some nice throws in gusting winds. The Titans only allowed reporters to watch the first practice of the three-day minicamp.
“I thought he was in command in the huddle,” Whisenhunt said.
“You can tell that he’s done this, and it wasn’t too big for him. He handled the plays well. A lot of the details, as far as his footwork, some of the little technique things, we have to work on, but he had a good start.”
Whisenhunt said Mettenberger always has been a quarterback that stands in the pocket and the injury doesn’t seem to have affected him. Getting strength back in Mettenberger’s leg is the focus now, and Whisenhunt credited LSU’s trainers with having the quarterback way ahead of where someone would think he would be now.
Mettenberger has bumped into the other quarterbacks in the building, but rookies were on a different schedule than the veterans. They will work together starting Monday, and Mettenberger said being drafted at No. 178 overall isn’t an issue.
“I could have gone first overall,” Mettenberger said. “The draft is just the beginning of the process. The great ones don’t think they made it after the draft. Being drafted in the sixth round, I’m just proud to call myself a Titan and come in and get to work and that’s what I’m doing.”