Locker close to throwing, but vet Matt Hasselbeck to start 3rd straight for Titans vs. Bills

Published October 15, 2012

| Associated Press

Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will start his third straight game when the Titans visit Buffalo on Sunday, and injured Jake Locker could be healthy enough to return in a week.

Doctors checked Locker's left, non-throwing shoulder again Monday.

Coach Mike Munchak said he didn't have the results, but that the quarterback is healing.

"I wouldn't think he'd play this week," Munchak said. "He's doing better, much better than he was last week at this time. He'll probably start doing more activity this week. But again, we'll just have to wait and see how he does the next couple days, how fast he comes along. I would imagine it would take him another week."

Locker first hurt his shoulder in the season opener against New England, and he dislocated the shoulder Sept. 30 in a loss at Houston. Munchak said they are lucky enough to have Hasselbeck available to start and allow Locker to heal without rushing him back.

Hasselbeck led the Titans (2-4) to 10 points in the final 4:19 last week to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-23. That doesn't mean there is a quarterback controversy in Tennessee.

"If he was healthy enough to suit up, we'd feel he's healthy enough to play," Munchak said of Locker.

The Titans worked out for an hour Monday after a weekend off following their much-needed win.

Locker wasn't available in the locker room after the session, and Hasselbeck only talks once a week when starting. Munchak said Locker wanted to play against Pittsburgh and the Bills (3-3).

"But he physically can't, so he's all in now for Matt to do well because he knows if Matt does well, the team does well and then hopefully at some point Jake will be coming back and leading this thing and obviously we want to be in the playoff hunt," Munchak said. "It's going to take a group effort to get that done."

Before the Titans can even think about being in the hunt for a playoff spot, they have more immediate concerns of trying to win consecutive games for the first time this season.

They last won consecutive games at the end of last season against Jacksonville and at Houston to finish with the franchise's first winning record since 2008 at 9-7.

Munchak said they now have a chance to do something at 2-4.

"We have a lot of work ahead of us believe me," Munchak said. "There's no reason we can't put some wins together. If you do that, then you work yourself back into it and that's the good thing is that there's still a chance to work yourself back into it if you can win four, five games in a row, which is a big if. We haven't done that yet. We haven't won two in a row yet."

The Titans still have given up more points (204) than any other NFL team. The running game is mired in last place, even though Chris Johnson has run well in two of his past three games. He had his best performance ever against Pittsburgh, running for 91 yards.

Still, they feel revived after the much-needed win and the chance to rest over the weekend.

Receiver Nate Washington said every offensive player knows they cannot be complacent, not after the plays they didn't make against Pittsburgh. He also sees mistakes that still must be corrected.

"We can't overlook it as just another weekend off for a little time to sit at home," Washington said. "We have to take advantage of this to get our bodies back and make sure our minds are where they're supposed to be."

Tight end Jared Cook, who spent much of the weekend sleeping, said the Titans must remember how much it hurts to lose compared to the great feeling when they win to keep that winning spirit. He also agrees with Washington that the offense executed much better against Pittsburgh.

"It's just a matter of keeping a push and keeping it moving and making sure we all stay on the same page and continue to execute because when we execute, there's nobody I feel like can stop us," Cook said.

Notes: Tommie Campbell will miss the Buffalo game. Munchak said Campbell, who hurt his left ankle covering a punt return, remained in a walking boot Monday. ... DT Jurrell Casey (shoulder) is expected to practice Wednesday, though he could be limited. ... LB Colin McCarthy (right ankle) also is expected to practice Wednesday after playing every defensive snap for the first time this season against Pittsburgh. ... Rookie S Markelle Martin (right knee) will practice Wednesday, starting a three-week window for the Titans to decide whether or not to active the sixth-round draft pick from Oklahoma State off the physically-unable-to-perform list.

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