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Hasselbeck walking, Titans in wait and see mode

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)

Tennessee coach Mike Munchak says Matt Hasselbeck is sore but walking around despite a left calf injury.

Whether the veteran quarterback is strong enough to start against winless Indianapolis remains to be seen.

Munchak said Monday they will wait and see how Hasselbeck is Wednesday when they take the field next for practice when the quarterback starts moving around.

The coach said they hadn't heard anything yet on the MRI, but assume the injury is on the mild side.

For anyone wondering if the Titans are tempted to use this injury to give rookie Jake Locker his first NFL start, Munchak made it clear chasing the team's first playoff berth since 2008 matters most.

''We have to win these three games. If Matt's healthy, then Matt will quarterback us. As far as Jake, he'll have plenty of time to be our guy. So we wouldn't put him in just to give him experience. We know we can win with him in there. We feel real good about what we've seen in just the two games he's had a chance to play,'' Munchak said.

''Our thing is we have three huge games ahead of us, and we got to take care of all three of those if we want to play anymore.''

For a team expected to do very little in Munchak's first season, the Titans find themselves a game out of the AFC's final wild-card spot currently held by the New York Jets (8-5) who visit Philadelphia (5-8) before hosting the Giants (7-6) and wrapping up the regular season at Miami (4-9).

Tennessee missed a chance to keep pace with the Jets when Locker was sacked on third-and-goal at the Saints 5 at the end of a 22-17 loss to New Orleans, which snapped a two-game winning streak.

The Titans are tied with Cincinnati and Oakland at 7-6, though the Bengals have a 24-17 win on Nov. 6 over them as a tiebreaker.

Cincinnati visits St. Louis before hosting Arizona and Baltimore. Oakland hosts Detroit (8-5) with a trip to Kansas City (5-8) while wrapping up the regular season at home against San Diego (6-7).

The Titans visit winless Indianapolis before hosting Jacksonville (4-9) and heading to Houston (10-3) where the Texans have wrapped up the AFC South.

Tennessee's loss to New Orleans combined with Houston's win over Cincinnati helped the Texans clinch their first AFC South title, eliminating the Titans in the division. Munchak said that makes the challenge simple now.

''We know we have to go in as a wild card. We just have to win our games, take care of our business. We'll see them in a couple weeks, and that game hopefully will mean a lot to us,'' Munchak said of finishing the regular season at Houston.

Hasselbeck was hurt early in the second quarter against New Orleans, though he filled in for rookie Jake Locker with one completion in the fourth quarter before hopping to the sideline.

Munchak said they feel they can win with either Hasselbeck or Locker, but there's no reason to make a change at starter because of an injury if the veteran is healthy enough to play.

''If Matt's not healthy, that's another conversation,'' Munchak said.

Locker threw for 282 yards, the second-most in franchise history by a rookie. Only Jacky Lee threw for more with 331 yards for the then-Houston Oilers on Nov. 25, 1960, against the Boston Patriots. Locker also ran for 36 yards and a touchdown.

Munchak said if Locker were to wind up starting against the Colts, it would be easier than coming off the bench in relief as he did in Atlanta on Nov. 20 and against the Saints.

The advantage would be having a few days to prepare and help shape the offensive plan toward plays Locker likes.

''He's obviously waiting for that opportunity so when he does have that position I would think he'd enjoy it,'' Munchak said.

Hasselbeck isn't the only injured player as the Titans try to keep their playoff hopes alive Sunday at Indianapolis.

He was among six or seven Titans who had MRIs on Monday with running back Javon Ringer's hand possibly the most serious. Munchak said he didn't have information on them yet.

But Munchak said he thinks linebacker Akeem Ayers' shoulder is a minor injury. Linebacker Gerald McRath (left knee/ankle) was carted off the sideline, and receiver Nate Washington played despite not practicing all week because of his left ankle. Cornerback Jason McCourty, deactivated against New Orleans due to a concussion, was cleared Monday and will practice Wednesday.

Notes: Munchak said he hadn't heard talk of a possible whistle heard during the game with the Saints and that there wasn't much he could say on that topic.

Tagged: Titans, Saints, Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Locker

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