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Hasselbeck not necessarily one-year rental for Titans

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Posted Nov. 23, 2011 @ 9:57 p.m. ET
By Arthur Arkush

Titans fans caught a promising glimpse of the future in Week 11, when rookie QB Jake Locker, in his first extended regular-season action, replaced injured starter Matt Hasselbeck and nearly rallied Tennessee from a 20-point deficit against the Falcons. In a little more than one quarter of work, Locker completed 9-of-19 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

There was plenty to like about Locker's performance: his athleticism, arm strength and poise were all on display. Locker used his legs to pick up a critical third down; he showed off his rifle arm, both in the pocket and on the move and he showed great poise in nearly pulling off the upset.

Still, Locker also showed that he is far from a finished product. He took a bad sack and was too erratic. A daily team observer explained that Locker's Week 11 performance was a microcosm of what he has shown on the practice field throughout his first season. He will make some unbelievable throws, then sail a ball five yards over a receiver's head.

Locker, the eighth overall pick in 2011, is the future and he likely will compete with Hasselbeck in camp. However, we hear that Hasselbeck is considered the front-runner to be the Week One starter in '12 — which is more about how much the veteran has impressed than the rookie failing to impress.

In addition to being a huge asset to Locker off the field, Hasselbeck has played very well without his No. 1 target (Kenny Britt) or any semblance of a running game. The Titans think he can play even better with those other areas improved. Of course, Hasselbeck, who has started only 16 games three times in his 13-year career (the last time in 2007), will have to stay healthy. It will be interesting to see if he can shake off the forearm injury sustained in Atlanta or if he will further break down.

The Titans are encouraged by the way Locker is developing, and it was obvious his receivers rose to the occasion with him in the game. But Tennessee does not view Hasselbeck as a one-year rental. Still, if the wheels come off and the Titans are eliminated from the postseason, they are likely to turn to Locker.

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