NFL roster cuts: AFC | NFC

On Locker versus Hasselbeck for Titans

May, 9, 2012
5/09/12
12:51
PM ET
Jake Locker versus Matt Hasselbeck will be one of our most intriguing training camp story lines.

Titans coaches love Hasselbeck, who carried the torch for the message as they took over and brought an immediate, necessary and underrated dose of veteran leadership to the locker room.

[+] EnlargeJake Locker
Jim Brown/US PresswireJake Locker continues to wait in the wings to take over as the Titans' starting quarterback.
Unless he’s horrible in July and August, I can’t see how he gets demoted from the starting job, especially when the Titans' first four games are against the Patriots, at the Chargers, against the Lions and at the Texans.

Coach Mike Munchak has said he thinks as things unfold the decision will be obvious. I believe, ultimately, it will take one of three things for Locker to get the starting job:

  • A tremendous training camp and preseason paired with poor play by Hasselbeck.
  • An injury to Hasselbeck.
  • A gut feeling from Munchak and offensive coordinator Chris Palmer that it’s time to turn to the QB of the future.

I know many fans were excited about what they saw from Locker in limited action last year. I understand he’s the future. Yes, a lot of young quarterbacks have been given the keys to their teams and done well.

Still, none of them have really been in a situation where there team worked hard to get a reliable, proven veteran who can play on the roster the way the Titans did with Hasselbeck. They feel he delivered what they brought him in for, so they won't demote him easily or lightly. Reasonable or not, they feel a degree of loyalty to him, I believe.

Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean talked with Locker recently, and Locker said the sort of things a team wants to hear from its long-term guy.
“My goal is to earn the respect of the guys around me. Not to ask for it, but how you go out and work and how you prepare yourself, they can tell it means something to you …

“Just knowing a routine — I know what to expect now, somewhat. I know what to expect out of camp. I know what to expect out of our first road game, our first preseason game. It is not all new to me now, and there is a sense of comfort in that.”

What’s the catalyst for the Titans to turn to Locker? I don’t know what it is or when it arrives.

I do know the popular idea among fans is that the Titans should turn things over to the kid to get it over with and get him going, and move to the future in the present won’t be their rationale for the move when it comes.

If they don’t think he will give them as good a chance to win on the next Sunday on the schedule, I expect he’ll continue to sit unless Hasselbeck is hurt.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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