Tennessee Titans still have quarterback quandary

9:33 AM, Aug 7, 2012   |    comments
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By Jim Wyatt | The Tennessean

DALTON, Ga. - Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's first pass in team drills against the Falcons was a beauty, a deep ball to wide receiver Nate Washington.

His last pass was shorter but also highly effective -- a quick-strike touchdown to wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins.

During the two hours in between, Hasselbeck and his receivers had some imperfect moments. Jake Locker, also bidding to win the starting job, had a similar practice.

The Titans felt their offensive work here on Monday against one of the NFC's top teams was productive, even if it didn't provide a definitive answer to their quarterback question. That storyline is to be continued.

"They were competing, they were put in some tough spots with the guys they were playing with," coach Mike Munchak said. "But overall we have to be very happy with both of them. We have two good quarterbacks who love to compete, and that's what they did again today."

Hasselbeck finished 13-of-17 passing with two interceptions in team drills at Coahulla Creek High School, while Locker was 10-of-14.

Both of Hasselbeck's interceptions were throws intended for rookie wide receiver Kendall Wright. The first-round pick looked indecisive on one ill-fated route, and Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel took another ball away from him in the end zone during a two-minute drill.

In less congested seven-on-seven drills, Hasselbeck was 6-of-6 and Locker was 5-of-6.

"I am pretty happy with how we played," Hasselbeck said. "There was definitely some indecision at times, but that is to be expected for our first time out in a game-like situation, without watching any film of them at all. But overall I think we have to be pretty pleased."

Hasselbeck's best work was in the two-minute offense, when he connected with Washington and tight end Jared Cook. The drive would've ended with a touchdown in three plays had running back Chris Johnson not let a ball bounce off his hands in the flat near the goal line.

Locker looked decisive during his opportunities. Working with the second-team line during his two-minute drill, however, the second-year pro was sacked on one play and couldn't handle a low snap on another. Later, he threw too high for tight end Taylor Thompson in the end zone.

"It was a good change of pace, and that helped, that's for sure," Locker said of practicing against the Falcons. "We got to see some (coverages) we don't see on a regular basis. I thought we reacted and dealt with it, and we'll all learn."

Johnson appeared to run well, while receivers consistently found ways to get open. Johnson and wide receiver Marc Mariani were among the players Munchak singled out.

Although the teams practiced in full pads, there was no tackling.

"We won," Hawkins said with a smile. "We put a whipping on those boys, and we did basic stuff. Imagine when we put our real stuff in."

The Titans begin their preseason schedule on Saturday at Seattle, where the quarterback competition will continue.

"I don't know which way they're going to go there. Both of them looked good today," said Falcons safety Chris Hope, who played for the Titans from 2006-11.

"I think Hasselbeck is a great quarterback -- he is an older guy, but he still gets it done. Locker is going to be a good one, but the way I see it, there is no rush to put a young guy in until you have to. Either way, though, they're going to be fine."

Reach Jim Wyatt at 615-259-8015 or jwyatt@tennessean.com.

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