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Titan QB Locker impressive, but starting role not his just yet

Titan QB Locker impressive, but starting role not his just yet

Posted: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 7:53 am

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak says he saw some good things from Jake Locker in Saturday night’s 27-17 preseason loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The question is whether his coaching staff saw enough from Locker to allow him to dethrone Matt Hasselbeck as the starting quarterback.
Locker went 7-for-13 for 80 yards and directed the Titans to a field goal, their only points of the first half, just before halftime.
Hasselbeck completed 5-of-9 for 45 yards in playing the first three possessions. But the veteran quarterback was victimized by a pair of interceptions — one on his first throw and another on his final one.
The first came when the ball went through the hands of a diving Nate Washington, bounced into the air and was eventually returned 23 yards for a touchdown by Seattle’s Brandon Browner.
“We need to be sharper, the first play of the game you never want to start with an incompletion, never mind a turnover, never mind a turnover for a touchdown,” Hasselbeck said. “It was one of those things where I saw it happening like it was in slow motion and I was just like, ‘No.’ But yeah it happened and it was disappointing.”
Munchak and the offensive staff will take time to evaluate the Seattle loss, and will want to see more before deciding which man is his starter for the regular season.
“I want to name a starter as soon as we’re ready to name him. We’re not looking at the calendar. There’s obviously deadlines and one has to be named by a certain time,” Munchak said. “The sooner we make it the better as we go through the process. We’re not really giving ourselves a deadline. I’m not looking at it that way. We’re just kind of moving forward like we have been.”
Munchak would not declare on Sunday whether he would rotate and start Locker on Friday night against Tampa Bay. Locker said the decision who is the starter is not within his control, except for how he does when he is on the field.
“It’s not for me to decide for both Matt and I,” Locker said. “It’s up to us to go out and play as well as we can and put our team in the best situation to win games. And at the end of the day I don’t get to make that decision, so I am probably the wrong guy to ask. I just try to prepare, hopefully get better, and give myself an opportunity.”
Munchak declined to say if Locker, last year’s first-round pick, had closed the gap on Hasselbeck, who has been in the league since 1998.
“If they’re competing, there isn’t a big gap,” Munchak said. “Going in, they’re close enough to where they’re competing. If I pick another position, and there’s a position where the backup obviously can’t beat the guy out, then there’s a big gap. They’re competing because they’re close enough that we feel we can win with both of them.”
Matt Flynn got the start at quarterback for Seattle while incumbent Tarvaris Jackson was left to watch this week. Coach Pete Carroll gave no indication afterward how the rotation will be next week when Seattle travels to Denver.
“The quarterbacks did a really nice job,” Carroll said. “Nothing but good stuff came out of this game.”
Hasselbeck was greeted with cheers and signs before the game with plenty of fans still donning No. 8 Seahawks jerseys. Hasselbeck said he got choked up speaking before the game.
“It means a lot to me to see someone wearing my jersey especially when I’m gone,” Hasselbeck said.
Flynn played the entire first half, but was highly conservative with his throws. He finished 11-of-13 for 71 yards, but never once challenged the Titans’ secondary downfield.
His longest completion was a 16-yard throw to Zach Miller, but five of his completions were for five yards or less.
In terms of appearance, Locker, who played his college ball across town at Washington, got the better of Saturday night albeit against the Seahawks’ backups. Titans coach Mike Munchak saw it that way as well, saying the gap between the QBs has closed.
“I think overall, as the season progressed last year, Jake was coming on real strong last year. He kind of picked up where he left off in training camp. That’s why there’s a competition,” Munchak said. “If he didn’t close the gap, there wouldn’t be a competition and Matt obviously would be starting. I think he’s closed the gap.”
Hasselbeck ended up with 15 snaps, right about what Munchak had hoped.
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Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP—NFL

Published in The Messenger 8.13.12

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