Right now, no one can say for sure whether or not Matt Hasselbeck will be the Tennessee Titans’ starting quarterback this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Hasselbeck, who was forced from Sunday’s 23-17 loss at Atlanta with an injury to his throwing arm, likely is the one who will have the most prominent say in what eventually happens.
“I think Matt’s smart enough, as he was in that game, to know if he is comfortable playing,” coach Mike Munchak said Monday. “… You know if you can help the team win.
“If he feels there’s anything in question, I think he’ll be smart about it and tell us where he’s at.”
Tests on Hasselbeck’s right (throwing) arm revealed no muscle tears or structural damage. Munchak said the 13-year veteran had soreness in the elbow and forearm, but that the diagnosis was a muscle strain.
The current plan is to limit Hasselbeck’s practice time this week, particularly on Wednesday, and then evaluate him daily all the way up to kickoff, if need be. The Titans (5-5) play the Buccaneers (4-6) noon Sunday at LP Field.
“Even Thursday, splitting the reps [with rookie Jake Locker] — if we did that — wouldn’t be a big deal and then by Friday, you would hope … we would have a better feel what we were doing,” Munchak said. “We’ll have to see where he’s at as far as throwing the ball and if he’s comfortable throwing the ball and then we’ll go from there.”
Hasselbeck has started all 16 games in a season just twice in his career and both times (2003 and 2005) he helped Seattle to the playoffs, including that franchise’s only Super Bowl appearance. The last time he started at least the first 10 games in a season — as he has done this year — was 2007, also a playoff year for the Seahawks.
He currently ranks 10th in the NFL with an 86.1 passer rating, which is better than his career average of 82.7. His 14 touchdown passes already are more than he had in all of 2010 and his 7.2 yards-per-attempt average is on pace for his highest in six years.
His next victory as a starting quarterback will be the 75th of his career.
“I’ve seen him in the training room,” fullback Ahmard Hall said. “… He doesn’t let too many things get him down. He’s been injured in the past. He’s a seasoned veteran … he’s been there, done that.
“He’ll be ready to go [Sunday].”
The last time the Titans had a quarterback start all 16 games in a season was 2002, when Steve McNair did it. They went 11-5, won a playoff game and then lost at Oakland in the AFC championship.
McNair played through a variety of injuries during his career but never dealt with a problem in his throwing elbow.
“It’s different when you’re throwing the football,” Munchak said. “[Hasselbeck] will know how that arm feels and can he make all the throws or not. If it gets to that, I’m sure the right decision will be made by us and Matt.”
• Right tackle David Stewart (calf), middle linebacker Barrett Ruud (groin) and defensive end Derrick Morgan (ankle) also were injured in the loss to the Falcons.
Similar to Hasselbeck, none of the three were considered to be seriously hurt and their respective status for Sunday was undetermined.
Everyone that was injured in the game … is pretty much in that category of ‘wait and see.’
• Hall expressed continued support for Vince Young, his former teammate with the Titans and the University of Texas. Young led the Philadelphia Eagles to a 17-10 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday, his first start for a franchise other than Tennessee.
Young completed 23 of 36 passes for 258 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran six times for five yards.
“I was definitely happy for him,” Hall said. “It wasn’t a pretty win — it never is with Vince, for the most part. But he wins ballgames, and he went out there and won another game for the Eagles.”
Young is now 31-17 all-time as an NFL starter.