Hasselbeck's thumb injury not an issue; for Titans, keeping him healthy is

Friday, October 28, 2011 at 12:08am

Matt Hasselbeck is not sure where he will experience the greatest amount of pain this season.

The Tennessee Titans quarterback is certain, though, that it will not be from the bruised thumb he sustained late in last Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans.

“I think I hit it on an arm, or somebody’s elbow … something like that — one of those big D linemen,” Hasselbeck said. “There’s nothing you can really do.”

“I’ve had worse. Played with worse. Practiced with worse. So I anticipate having much worse injuries at some point this season. I’m not too focused on it.”

Minor as it might have been, coaches opted in favor of caution and held Hasselbeck out of the majority of Wednesday’s workout. It was business as usual Thursday, though, as the 13-year veteran did the bulk of the work with the starting offense during a spirited session conducted on the team’s indoor practice field.

“Sometimes players need someone to tell them they can’t do it,” coach Mike Munchak said. “So I think we did the right thing by telling him he couldn’t do it even though he is a guy that is never going to come over to you and say, ‘Hey, can I rest my thumb for a day?’ I wouldn’t expect him ever to do that. Even if it’s hanging off of his hand, I know he would want to practice and it was up to us to do that.”

The fact that the thumb is as bad as it’s been for Hasselbeck thus far is encouraging for the Titans, who signed the free agent in order to allow rookie Jake Locker at least a season to watch and develop.

He has not taken a lot of hits through the first six games and has played every snap in all but two. Other than the Houston game, he was lifted in favor of Locker late in a blowout victory at Cleveland.

“[Wednesday] wasn’t that bad, they just kind of gave me a day off just, so I didn’t take a bunch of snaps and pound it,” Hasselbeck said. “I didn’t want them to give me the day off. I think, more than anything, it was just also an exercise in getting [Locker] and Rusty [Smith] some reps.

“When you’re as old as I am, they start giving you days off when you sneeze too much. I definitely appreciate it, but I don’t anticipate it being an issue in the game.”

Only once in the past five seasons has Hasselbeck played each of his team’s first eight games. That was 2007 and it turned out to be the second — and last — of his 10 seasons at Seattle in which he played all 16 games in a season.

Not once during that same period did the Titans have the same quarterback start every contest, although they came close twice. Kerry Collins started the final 15 in 2008 (the last time they reached the postseason), a year after Vince Young started 15.

Not since 2002, when Steve McNair did it, has Tennessee had the same starter from start to finish. That team went 11-5, won a playoff game and played in the AFC championship contest.

“He threw well [Thursday] and I’m sure the next couple of days will be good so he is in great shape,” Munchak said. “You hate to be the opposite and say, ‘Man we shouldn’t have thrown him because now he is real sore,’ because then we would be going, ‘Well why didn’t you give him a day off?’

“I think it worked out the right way.”

Actually, Hasselbeck was not particularly concerned either way.

“When you talk about injuries in general you kind of tell yourself you’re fine. It’s easier to manage that way. As Tom Coughlin used to say: ‘Make pain your ally. The more familiar you become with it, the easier it is to manage.’

“I thought that was a good saying.”