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VOL. 126 | NO. 245 | Friday, December 16, 2011

Munchak: Assuming for Now That Hasselbeck Starts

TERESA M. WALKER | AP Sports Writer

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NASHVILLE (AP) – Titans coach Mike Munchak says he is assuming Matt Hasselbeck is playing Sunday at Indianapolis until he sees otherwise. That's even though his veteran quarterback only watched practice Wednesday.

And backup Jake Locker's chest is sore enough that the Titans limited him too.

Munchak said they will see how Hasselbeck is doing Thursday, but the 13-year veteran is doing more exercises inside.

"So it's just a matter of waiting to see how he does. We are not worried about him knowing the offense or knowing what we are doing as much as the fact the he physically feels comfortable doing those things. ... He knows if he doesn't feel right and he will be honest with us, so we still feel good about him and hope that he will be ready to go Sunday."

Hasselbeck hurt his left calf in last week's 22-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints, and Locker left the game for a play after being taken to the ground by Tracy Porter. That left Locker sore enough Wednesday that his practice was limited mostly to the run game with No. 3 quarterback Rusty Smith handling most of the work with the first-team offense.

Neither Hasselbeck nor Locker spoke to reporters Wednesday. Hasselbeck regularly speaks after Thursday practices.

Munchak says Hasselbeck remains in a wait-and-see mode, noting the 13-year veteran has not practiced recently on Wednesdays to give him an extra day to heal.

"As far as how he is doing, there is no emergency until Friday until we see really where he is at as far as our concerns for if he can play or not play," Munchak said. "Right now I'm assuming he is playing until we see otherwise."

If Hasselbeck can't play or the Titans decide to give the veteran another week to heal his calf, Locker, the eighth pick overall, could be in line for his first NFL start. That would give him a chance to try to become the sixth rookie to win a game this season at a crucial time for Tennessee.

The Titans (7-6) must win their final three games to have a shot at the playoffs as a wild card in the AFC.

Locker has come off the bench twice this season, and he threw for 282 yards against New Orleans. That was the second-highest total by a rookie quarterback and best since Jacky Lee threw for 331 yards against Boston on Nov. 25, 1960, for the then-Houston Oilers.

Chris Johnson said he's very confident in Locker if the rookie winds up making his first start.

"He's pretty good. Looks like he's been playing the whole year or whatever. Not got any rookie jitters or nervous," Johnson said of Locker in the huddle. "He comes in there makes plays. You get on the sideline talking to us guys, he looks like he's been playing the whole year so he's pretty good."

Colts coach Jim Caldwell said they expect to see Hasselbeck, but also are preparing for Locker.

"Hasselbeck has been around a long time now. He is a tough guy and we are anticipating that he will be back, but if not then we will certainly be ready for Locker as well," Caldwell said on a conference call.

Notes: The Titans list RB Javon Ringer (hand) as out against the Colts. Munchak said they will not have to make a roster move this week to add a player at that position because rookie Jamie Harper will replace Ringer, and FB Ahmard Hall also is an option. ... WR Nate Washington (left ankle), DE William Hayes (groin), LB Gerald McRath (left knee/ankle) and LB Patrick Bailey (hamstring) did not practice.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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