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Hasselbeck trying to hold off Locker

The SportsXchange

The Titans have plenty of sidebars that will make training camp a little more interesting to follow than usual.

There is, of course, the Kenny Britt saga, with the talented wide receiver beginning training camp on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list, and his arrest the week before camp opened for DUI at an army post in Fort Campbell, Ky., about an hour northwest of Nashville. Through the first couple of days at least, Britt has been squirreled away, out of sight from the media.

Then, there is the matter with Kendall Wright, the team's top draft pick, who remained unsigned the first couple of days after camp opened as his agent and the team try to settle differences on offset language and guaranteed money in his rookie contract.

But those matters should eventually be resolved. The real issue in training camp for the Tennessee Titans is who will be the team's starting quarterback. Will it be Matt Hasselbeck, who delivered a solid performance last year after coming aboard post-lockout as a free agent. Or will be the young man Hasselbeck is charged with mentoring, Jake Locker, last year's first-round pick.

Coach Mike Munchak has thrown the competition for the starting spot wide open between the two, going so far as to alternate reps in practice, even within the same series.

"We think that's the best way to do it, for them to compete that way, to avoid a lot of things," Munchak said, "Avoid looking at the script beforehand, knowing what plays you are going to get, knowing who you are working with.

"That way coaches can make more of the decisions on what they want to see them doing, who they want to see them with. Like I mentioned, we will do that with the quarterback position. We did it with the offensive line. We'll do it with some defensive positions throughout camp and try to find the right mixture as a group."

Munchak wants to have the matter settled by the third preseason game, because he want to give the winner of the quarterback derby as much time as possible to settle in as the starter before the season opener on Sept. 9 vs. New England.

Both Hasselback and Locker know what is at stake, and though, they have become good friends, each has gone about readying himself to be the starting quarterback.

Hasselbeck, who turns 37 in September, took his offseason time extra seriously in preparation for camp and holding on to the job. Between the Titans and his former team, the Seattle Seahawks, Hasselbeck has been a starter in the league since 2001.

"I played it more safe and I didn't really travel. I didn't really go anywhere for fun. Everywhere I went, I had a purpose. If I was going somewhere, then throwing and working out was priority No. 1 all the time," Hasselbeck said.

Locker, too, is excited for the opportunity and knows what he wants to show the coaches, even if he isn't quite sure what it might take to put him over the top on the depth chart in his second season.

"Exactly what I need to show them, I don't really know," Locker said. "But my goal to show them is that I'm comfortable within this offense, that I'm confident in myself and my abilities in this offense, and that it wouldn't be too big for me."

As the evaluation process plays out, Munchak says the Titans can't overlook any area, nor can they over-analyze things either.

"You're looking at everything. You can't overanalyze. It's not just the quarterback, there's everything," he said. "You're kind of taking it all in on the field. You can see things on the field obviously you cannot see on film. That's the type of stuff ... the interactions, how they respond to each other, how they respond after maybe a couple of bad plays, how they take the coaching. Those are the things you see on the field-the body language."

When all is said and done, it will probably come down to who does more in making the Titans a better team.

"The bottom line is winning football games, and we feel the guy that's going to move the team the best, put more points on the board, and on and on is what you're looking at," Munchak said.
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