The Tennessee Titans’ quarterback competition is not finished. For Saturday’s preseason opener at Seattle, however, the starter is set.
Matt Hasselbeck, who played 10 seasons with the Seahawks before he joined the Titans, will be first up, coach Mike Munchak said Thursday.
"It wasn’t a big decision," Munchak said. "I think Matt deserves the start. If it means anything, it’s his hometown and where he’s played. He was a starter last year, so I think he should be the first one out of the box with the ball in his hand.
"They’re both going to play the same ... but that was kind of an easy thought going in that we’d let Matt (Hasselbeck) start."
The hope is that the offense runs somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 plays before halftime, equally – or close to it – divided between Hasselbeck and Jake Locker. Locker will work with at least part of the starting offensive line and probably some of the starters at the skill positions as well. Rusty Smith will open the second half.
“I’m not going to be like, ‘Oh, I should have been the guy,’” Locker said. “For me, it’s not going to be a discouragement or anything like that. I’m going to approach it the same way I would if I was starting the game.
“… There’s a basic plan, I think, for as much as we might play. They’re just kind of wanting to get a similar amount of reps for the both of us.”
A year ago the two ended the preseason with almost an equal amount of pass attempts. Hasselbeck threw 42 and Locker 49.
That, however, was only after Hasselbeck, the predetermined starter for the season, sat out the fourth contest, at New Orleans, and Locker played almost the entire way.
This time the goal is to try and evaluate the two based on a similar number of plays early in the preseason in addition to their daily work in practices.
“It’s not really a typical year,” Hasselbeck, who did not speak to reporters Thursday, said a day earlier. “I don’t know how that will go. Either way, I’m just preparing … I’ll be ready to go.”
Munchak said that no thought had been given to whether the roles would be reversed and Locker would start the next preseason contest, Aug. 17 at Tampa Bay. He also stressed that the decision for this game was not necessarily an indicator of the current state of the contest.
For now, the issue of who will start Sept. 9 against New England looks to be unsettled.
“I’m pleased with both guys,” offensive coordinator Chris Palmer said. “Every year is a new year. Some players get better. Some guys their careers are coming to an end. We’re in a situation where I think we can with either quarterback.”
Only one can start, though.
In this case, Locker will wait for his turn, just as he has done since being drafted 10th overall in 2011.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “In the end, that’s what you want.”