Matt Hasselback and Jake Locker plan to take their quarterback competition on the road. Make that back home, actually.
The two and the rest of their Tennessee Titans teammates continue organized team activities (OTAs) this week before a minicamp next week concludes all formal offseason training.
According to Hasselbeck, it is the time between that minicamp and the start of training camp a little more than a month later that he gets serious about throwing (“pitching,” as he referred to it Tuesday). This year he intends to ramp up his efforts at the home he maintains in the Seattle area during private workouts, which will include Locker.
“In July … that’s when the throwing really picks up,” Hasselbeck, a 13-year veteran, said. “For me, that’s the most important time of the year in terms of getting your arm ready to compete.
“These are competitive throws. But the real competitive throws — that’s July.”
Hasselbeck played 10 seasons for the Seattle Seahawks before he signed with the Ttians last summer as a free agent. Locker grew up in suburban Seattle and attended the University of Washington.
Rather than retreat to any separate corners, though, before they reconvene for training camp and sort out who will be the starter in the season-opener against New England, they intend to get together with current teammates, prospective teammates and even players from other teams.
“I’ve got one or two guys coming out and Jake and I are going to get together at some point,” Hasselbeck said. “Typically, what I’ve had to do in the past is just find … wide receivers and tight ends from other teams to throw with. If you can find guys that are your actual teammates that makes it better.
“But even like last year during the lockout, we had probably seven different teams represented and we were doing one-on-ones — quarterbacks, wide receivers, defensive backs. It’s those kinds of things.”
Free agent rookie tight end Brandon Barden will be an unlikely participant in at least some of those sessions next month. Barden is a Georgia native who played at Vanderbilt but has a connection in the Pacific Northwest that will make it easy for him to attend.
“I think his girlfriend is like my neighbor in Washington — random — so he’s going to get a chance to catch some balls this summer,” Hasselbeck said.
He added that while the work is critical to preparation for the professional season, there is a nostalgic quality that also appeals to him.
“It’s fun,” he said. “It reminds you of when you were in high school, going up to the high school field after work with your boys and your best friend and maybe another friend that’s not really a football player but trying. … I pulled some people out of retirement last year to throw to them.”
For now, though, he does not have to and does not want to throw too often or too hard during the 10 permitted OTAs and three minicamp workouts that make up the offseason calendar, which is in effect for the first time this year.
Hasselbeck, Locker, Rusty Smith and free agent rookie Nick Stephens divide the work almost evenly during this month, a division of labor which guarantees that no one is subject to overuse.
“It’s been good,” Hasselbeck said of the offseason work to this point. “We have four quarterbacks, so as long as we have four guys — Rusty skipped out on us one day and we all were a little sore the next day — … and you have this kind of a practice, it’s actually good training for training camp.”