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Hasselbeck Big Key in Speeding up Titans' Offense

Posted Aug 14, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Matt Hasselbeck's teammates rave about how quickly the veteran quarterback works in practice, and now he and the Tennessee Titans have a glimpse of what their new offense might look like this season.

With Hasselbeck playing one series, the Titans moved quickly to the line of scrimmage and even flashed one play without a huddle in Saturday night's 14-3 preseason opening victory over Minnesota. The offense looked crisp and up-tempo under new coordinator Chris Palmer.

"We think we're just getting more plays offensively. It's an advantage for the offense,'' new coach Mike Munchak said Sunday. "If the defense is substituting, they have to get things done faster. All those little things, I think, factor in, but you get in that mode of playing hard, quick and fast, and we like that.''

How the Titans played is just what they've been practicing.

Munchak said they've finished drills quickly by a couple minutes here, four minutes there, sometimes wrapping up practice sessions as much as 15 minutes faster. The key change in this approach is how much more time the quarterback has at the line of scrimmage to survey the defense.

"It gives them a lot more time,'' Munchak said. "We'll double-call plays at times. It gives the quarterback much more time to make a decision in getting us in the right play so we're not always in a hurry at the line of scrimmage.''

Hasselbeck was in for 10 plays to open the game, moving the Titans to the Vikings 16 before he fumbled the ball off fullback Ahmard Hall for a 30-yard loss. On one play, he hustled up to the line, quickly telling teammates which play he would call.

"This offense has a lot of `check with me' type things where it could be a run left to run right to pass, so the quicker you get to the line of scrimmage the more time you have to make those decisions, the more pressure you put on the defense to hurry up and line up,'' Hasselbeck said.

"That worked to our advantage for sure, especially in the running game,'' he said.

And that was with running back Javon Ringer starting in place of Chris Johnson, who is in a contract holdout. Imagine how much faster the Titans might be once the man once timed at 4.24 seconds in the 40-yard dash is back on the field.

For now, Munchak isn't lobbying the front office to finish a contract to get Johnson in. He said he's busy enough now with coaching and is optimistic that a deal will be taken care of well before the Titans open Sept. 11 at Jacksonville.

Jake Locker also came in behind the first-team offensive line and finished the quarter strongly. He said he is comfortable with plays in which teammates check with him because it's similar to what he ran in college at Washington with coach Steve Sarkisian.

The Titans combined to hold the ball for more than 10 minutes and outgain Minnesota 111-33 in total offense. It was a nice first look for a team that ranked 27th overall in total yards and last in the NFL in time of possession in 2010.

Tennessee has gone through so many changes since the end of last season. Quarterback Vince Young was released, the team parted with longtime coach Jeff Fisher, and quarterback Kerry Collins retired.

The Titans drafted Locker at No. 8 and signed Hasselbeck on July 27, hoping he can help team owner Bud Adams win now. Munchak liked what he saw out of Hasselbeck.

"For a guy that's been in camp for nine days and learning a new offense, I mean he ran it like he'd been here a long time,'' Munchak said.

Hasselbeck was 5 of 6 for 55 yards, and Locker was 7 of 10 for 89 yards with a 45-yard touchdown pass. As sharp as Hasselbeck was, Locker's early success and ability to score after forgetting the snap count already has fans wondering if he'll start this season.

Munchak said they're taking it a week at a time.

"We're assuming it's going to be that way that Matt will be the starter when the season starts,'' Munchak said.

NOTES: Munchak said RT David Stewart hurt a hamstring and is day to day. Ringer was hit on the hip. ... Munchak also responded to being presented by a game ball by Hasselbeck. The coach said he was surprised. "It's something special not only to me but all of us. It's our first win for all of us together. Fifteen to 20 days together, and we're on the right track. I think that's what it pretty much signifies.''

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