Moments after his first workout as a Tennessee Titan, Matt Hasselbeck made it clear that the process of learning a new offense would not be a speedy one.
He discussed the mental gymnastics of sorting through new terminology. He talked about throws that could have been better had he more familiarity with his intended targets. He even owned up to the one time “that anybody noticed, anyway” he went the wrong way.
When he was on the field, though, it was equally apparent to his new teammates that they ought to be in a hurry when Hasselbeck runs the huddle.
“You have to get used to his cadence and get used to how he calls the plays because he’s real fast and real energetic,” fullback Ahmard Hall said. “He’s quick, man. He’s a professional. He’s been doing it for a long time and he’s used to doing it.
“So we have to get used to that, and get back to the huddle — run back to the huddle … and move, move, move.”
The recertified NFL players union ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with the league on Thursday, which was the final step necessary to begin the new league year.
With that, free agents finally were allowed to practice with their new teams. For the Titans, that group included Hasselbeck, signed to be the team's starting quarterback, defensive tackle Shun Smith, linebacker Barrett Ruud and eight others, including returning players such as Hall and right guard Leroy Harris.
“It felt great,” Smith said. “I’m not tired. I’m not breathing [heavy]. … It was so good to be out there. I signed here to do a job, and I wasn’t able to do a job.
“It felt good to actually practice and not just be on the side there sweating.”
Hasselbeck was the first of the free agents the Titans signed in the wake of the lockout. He was the starter for the past 10 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks following three years as an understudy to Brett Favre in Green Bay.
Since he arrived in town, he said he asked a lot of questions of the other three quarterbacks on the team, none of whom have more than one year of experience, but did not throw. His acclimation to the Southern climate included “a lot of sweet tea, which probably wasn’t the best thing.”
He jumped right in with the first team, though, on what offensive coordinator Chris Palmer said was the final day of installation of the offense and the sixth day of on-field work since the start of training camp a week earlier.
“He was excited,” coach Mike Munchak said. “I thought he was a young rookie he was so excited to be out here and the way we he was calling plays in the huddle and the speed. I mean, I thought we had a good tempo going up until now, but he really picked things up even another notch.”
Munchak added that the pace would allow him and his staff to add extra elements to upcoming practices. That can’t hurt given that time is short between now and the start of the regular season, Sept. 11 at Jacksonville, when things will happen even quicker.
“I have to learn [the offense] and I have to un-learn the stuff [from Seattle],” Hasselbeck said. “What was once ‘green’ is now ‘red’ and what was ‘red’ is now ‘blue’ In a competitive situation, when everything’s going real fast you kind of revert back.
“Hopefully the repetitions will help and the studying will help. … I think the perception was that I was going to come in and help [the other quarterbacks]. I haven’t helped them at all. They’re helping me all the way and I’m really appreciative of that.”