NASHVILLE -- Applause to Mike Munchak for his approach with his quarterbacks this week.
He could have easily followed the course a majority of coaches would have gone with and tried to create at least a hint of mystery about who would start on Sunday in Minnesota.
But three days after Jake Locker was knocked out of the loss to Houston, injuring his left, non-throwing shoulder for the second time this season, Munchak came out after practice and announced Matt Hasselbeck will start against the Vikings. Rusty Smith will be the backup, and Locker will be rested.
The non-nonsense Munchak clearly doesn’t believe playing a game of hide-and-seek regarding his starting quarterback would help his team accomplish much. He also knows people have a pretty good feel about the extent of Locker’s injury.
“I’ve been a part of these kinds of things, usually the coaching staff tells you not to tell anybody: 'Don’t tell your mom, your wife, your kids, we’re going to release it at the last possible moment the NFL will allow us to,’” Hasselbeck said. “Coach Munchak’s not really like that. He’s an offensive linemen.”
“… I think that’s just his way, he’s kind of a no nonsense kind of guy.”
Munchak didn’t speculate beyond Sunday, but the Titans have a quick turnaround for an Oct. 11 Thursday night home game against Pittsburgh. I’d guess Locker won’t have a chance at a return before Oct. 21 at Buffalo.
Locker said he’s less comfortable than he was after he first hurt the shoulder on opening day against New England, and said it was certainly “different,” with different clearly indicating worse. There isn't a need for surgery, but there is also no doubt he'll land hard on the shoulder again at some point once he returns to action.
Hasselbeck’s dealt with a banged up left shoulder in the past, and said he’s sympathetic because he knows how painful routine things like sleeping can be while there is swelling in it.
He played poorly in relief in Houston, with two picks (one that wasn’t his fault) and a lost fumble.
The Titans and Hasselbeck expect better now with a full week of preparation. Whether it's better enough, we'll have to wait and see. The defense and run game can certainly help him out.