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Locker steps up for Titans in battle of backups

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By Mary Foster, AP Sports Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tennessee's rookie quarterback Jake Locker added a bit of sparkle to an otherwise lackluster game Thursday night, leading the Titans to a 32-9 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

The Titans' first-round pick, who is expected to press Matt Hasselbeck for the starting job at some point this season, completed 15 of 17 for 132 yards and a touchdown. He had a 118.6 quarterback rating, playing just over three quarters. Locker also ran 22 yards to score,

Saints backup QB Chase Daniel was not as impressive, completing 29 of 39 for 249 yards. He was sacked twice. His only TD drive came in the fourth quarter when Montez Billings capped a 66-yard drive with a 2-yard reception.

The Titans' defense scored first as defensive tackle Karl Klug chased Daniel into the end zone and sacked him for a safety. It was the first safety New Orleans allowed since the second regular-season game of 2009, the Saints' Super Bowl season.

Ron Bironas added the first of his three field goals, a 32-yarder to put Tennessee up 5-0 going into the second quarter.

Tennessee stretched its lead to 22-0 at the half with Locker's 22-yard scramble, a 47-yard field goal, and a 12-yard touchdown reception by Lavelle Hawkins.

Bironas hit a 41-yarder in the third quarter that made it 25-0.

Damian Williams returned a punt 52 yards in the fourth quarter for a touchdown that closed out Tennessee's scoring.

The final preseason game for both teams was a battle of the backups. The Titans briefly played 10 of their regular starters, including quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who took nine snaps, and five defensive starters.

Tennessee agreed to a $56 million, six-year deal with starting running back Chris Johnson earlier Thursday. He will be a welcome addition for the regular season. Six Titans runners churned out 118 yards against the Saints, and the only TD rushing was Locker's.

New Orleans had one offensive starter in early and seven defensive starters played for a short time.

Saints starting quarterback Drew Brees, like all the offensive starters except left guard Carl Nicks, sat out. New Orleans opens the season next Thursday at Green Bay in the kickoff game for the regular schedule.

New Orleans signed veteran kicker John Kasay on Tuesday after Garrett Hartley hurt his right hip while kicking an extra point against Oakland. Kasay missed a 39-yard field goal and an extra point Thursday night before connecting on a 38-yard field goal.

Game stats

Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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