Matt Hasselbeck has won two straight games as the Tennessee Titans’ starting quarterback and head coach Mike Munchak said he expects Hasselbeck to start again on Sunday against Indianapolis as the Titans look to even their record at 4-4 and get back in the AFC playoff race.
Munchak has said all along that Jake Locker, who won the job out of camp but injured his non-throwing shoulder in Week 4, will remain the starter. Nonetheless, Munchak increasingly finds himself in a dilemma with Hasselbeck, 37, last season’s starter, as the team starts to play better.
Munchak said that the team’s coaching staff would have a meeting later in the day to consult with doctors as to Locker’s health. Locker has begun to throw, but Munchak said one prerequisite is that he wants Locker, the team’s first-round pick in 2011, to throw in traffic in practice before announcing him as the starter.
Munchak was reluctant to speculate as to whether Hasselbeck would retain the job if Locker remained out for a prolonged period.
“When he’s ready to play, like I’ve said, he’ll be the guy playing,” Munchak said of Locker.
Hasselbeck led the Titans to a 26-23 come-from-behind, fourth-quarter victory over Pittsburgh on Oct. 11 and then Sunday’s 35-34 win at Buffalo, the team’s first this season on the road. Hasselbeck completed a 15-yard pass to Nate Washington on fourth down in the final minutes of the game for the win. Hasselbeck completed 22 of 33 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions for a 93.6 rating.
Munchak said that Locker seems to be making good progress but seemed to soften his stance in the slightest degree about Hasselbeck possibly continuing as the team’s starter.
“Yeah, obviously, the quicker a guy comes back, you don’t even have to consider how it affects the team,” Munchak said. “You always factor in all the factors, you’d be crazy not to… I don’t want to speculate how long he’s out.”
He added: “Generally speaking, Jake comes back, he’ll be the guy playing…. You’re not going to go there. He should be the starter. There’s no reason for him not to be.”
Note: Quotes for this story were obtained by watching the live stream of Munchak’s press conference on the Titans’ Web site.