If Jake Locker isn’t the starter under center for the Titans in Week One — and we continue to hear Matt Hasselbeck is the front-runner — it’s not an indictment on Locker as much as it’s a testament to Hasselbeck.
That has been the consistent message from the multiple sources we have talked to since it was revealed that the pair will battle it out for the job under center this offseason.
Word is both players were impressive throughout offseason training. Locker worked hard in the weight room, slimming down by design, and showing the tremendous work ethic that helped attract the Titans to him last April. The key for Locker is becoming more consistent. When he is making the proper drops and his footwork is clean, he is capable of just about anything while throwing the football. But it’s a process — just as it was for Hasselbeck earlier in his career. The good news is that Locker, like Hasselbeck, has the desire to be great and he is willing to work.
Hasselbeck, though, is at his best when he has a chip on his shoulder. And while we’re told that the beauty of both players is that they’re only concern is bettering themselves — not worrying about who is in front of or behind them — it is clear Hasselbeck is throwing the ball extremely well as he looks to build on a solid '11 campaign.
Of course, having a full offseason has been a great benefit for both players. So is having a number of skill-position players that weren’t around last season. Top pick Kendall Wright looks like a player who can be an immediate difference-maker, we hear. He was held out of the club’s June minicamp because of a shoulder injury, but he impressed during OTAs with the amount of information he was able to absorb — not to mention the great suddenness and explosiveness he showed with the football in his hands.
Another rookie who continues to impress is fifth-round TE Taylor Thompson, a converted college defensive end. Thompson has shown natural hands and an ability to create in space and, though he is raw, he could eventually help change the dynamic of the offense as the Titans look to incorporate more two-TE sets.