It is well known that a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.
Chances are that Matt Hasselbeck need not cover that much ground in order to settle into the Tennessee Titans’ offense. Still, his intent is to take it more than one step at a time.
Each day the free agent quarterback asks his position coach Dowell Loggains for three things – not one – on which he ought to try and improve from the previous day.
“The first day it was ‘Say our snap count, not the Seahawks’ snap count; call the plays properly – like right and left properly’ and the third thing was something else,” Hasselbeck said Tuesday. “Just so I have something that I can improve on.”
With less than a week’s worth of workouts under his belt, the 35-year-old is hesitant to try and quantify his progress.
Likewise, he is reluctant to look too far down the road, even as far as Saturday’s preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings (7 p.m., LP Field).
It’s a virtual certainty that he will be the starting quarterback that night. How long he might play and what he hopes to accomplish in his first action after 10 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks he cannot say.
“Saturday – that’s a few days and in training camp time that feels like two weeks from now,” he said. “I haven’t even looked … Minnesota; I think we’re playing Minnesota; I haven’t even looked at Minnesota. I’m just trying to study this playbook.”
One area in which progress has been slower than anyone likes is in his connection with some of the wide receivers.
Kenny Britt, the Titans’ most productive pass catcher last season, made it through a full speed workout Tuesday – a first in this training camp. Coaches and trainers had limited his participation because of his history of hamstring injuries.
Second-year player Damian Williams also missed several days with a rib strain. He too was a participant in all of Tuesday’s session.
“I haven’t had any experience throwing to [Britt] or any of these guys really,” Hasselbeck said. “So when guys like Kenny or Damian or whoever miss practice it just slows that progress.”
Even so, there have been plenty of other areas on which he has been able to focus his attention.
For the first time since 2001 he has been asked to learn a new playbook and meet new teammates, not to mention uproot his family and his personal life. That requires adjustment – and takes some time, which is at a premium given that the lockout enacted by NFL owners in March lasted more than four months and caused the cancellation of all normal offseason activities.
Most seasons, a free agent acquisition such as Hasselebck would have been in the system for five months now and would have been well on his way to establishing himself as the number-one guy at a position that desperately needed one in the wake of Vince Young’s release and Kerry Collins’ retirement.
“I just need coaching right now,” Hasselbeck said. “The last however many years I was able to sort of coach myself just a little bit because I knew what the issues were. It’s just good to be coached.
“I think even the lockout taught me a lesson to appreciate your coaches a little bit more than you do because when they’re gone you realize the importance of them. I’m sort of happy to be back getting coached, getting critiqued. In a weird way, it feels good.”