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Jake Locker named Titans' starting quarterback

The Tennessee Titans made a decision Monday on a starting quarterback for the regular-season opener against the New England Patriots, and it will be Jake Locker, a source with knowledge of the situation told NFL Network's Michael Lombardi.

Titans coach Mike Munchak later announced the move.

Locker, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, has been competing throughout this offseason with veteran Matt Hasselbeck, who had led the Titans to a 9-7 record in his first season in Nashville after spending the previous 10 with the Seattle Seahawks.

In less than 100 plays in five games off the bench as a rookie, Locker completed 34 of 66 passes for 542 yards and four touchdowns. He also had eight carries for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Both quarterbacks have had shaky performances this preseason. Through two games, Locker has completed 11 of 24 passes for 101 yards, and Hasselbeck is 9-of-14 passing for 74 yards with two interceptions.

The Titans going with Locker doesn't come as a surprise. Of the first five quarterbacks taken in the 2011 draft, Locker was the only one who didn't start a game as a rookie or have a starting job locked up at the start of this year's training camp. Locker is a more dynamic athlete than Hasselbeck and can make things happen when plays break down.

Last week, Hasselbeck acknowledged that Locker eventually would be the guy, telling Seattle's KJR-AM that he knew upon signing with the Titans after the NFL lockout that the team would go at Locker's pace. When the rookie was ready, he'd be the guy.

It's yet to be seen if Locker is ready, but the Titans have decided they're not going to wait any longer.

UPDATE: A team source told NFL.com and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Monday that Locker is the Titans' hardest-working player, and the players look up to him. The move is expected to be popular in the locker room. The Titans' plan is to have Locker play roughly three quarters with the starters Thursday against the Arizona Cardinals, the first game in which the Titans will game plan for an opponent.

UPDATE 2: Team sources told NFL.com and NFL Network's Albert Breer that Locker has been consistently better than Hasselbeck in practice, with the veteran struggling to keep up. Despite Locker's advantage not showing up in games, the Titans believe that is part of the development process for a young quarterback in the NFL. The feeling within the team is that Hasselbeck would have needed to be clearly better than Locker to win the job, and Locker's day-to-day edge made it a fairly simple decision for the Titans.

Follow Brian McIntyre on Twitter @brian_mcintyre.

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