Hasselbeck joins Titans on field after week spent watching

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Matt Hasselbeck has waited so long to practice without throwing a ball that he felt like the rookie Thursday night in his first practice with the Tennessee Titans.

The veteran quarterback signed a three-year deal July 29 and mostly had been watching at training camp, limited to meetings until players ratified the collective bargaining agreement with the NFL. Hasselbeck had plenty of company Thursday night with 11 other Titans, including defensive tackle Shaun Smith, middle linebacker Barrett Ruud and tight end Daniel Graham.

Hasselbeck sprinted onto the field at the start and could only think of all the mistakes he believed he made during the practice.

"Learn the cadence, I know it obviously," Hasselbeck said. "It's not that hard to learn, but when you get in a live competitive situation, I think I reverted back to some of my old stuff. But Geno (center Eugene Amano) and those guys up front did a great job hanging in there with me snapping the ball. I think I only went the wrong way once -- that anybody noticed anyway."

Hasselbeck is being counted on to start this season and mentor rookie Jake Locker. Hasselbeck completed four of his first five passes, three of those to Graham, in his first drill at the goal line. Hasselbeck drew his first big cheer when he rolled right on play action and hit Jared Cook for a nice completion in a team period.

Hasselbeck later found Cook in a goal-line drill at the end line with a pass that was a bit high, though the 6-foot-5 tight end hauled it in for a touchdown.

Hasselbeck credited Locker, Rusty Smith and Brett Ratliff for helping him after a week spent watching, not throwing, and drinking too much sweet tea.

"I'm asking them all kinds of questions," Hasselbeck said. "I think the perception was I was going to come in here and help those guys. I really have not helped them at all. They're helping me all the way, and I'm really appreciative of it."

The 12-year veteran might have been a bit modest. Running back Javon Ringer, working with the first-team offense while Chris Johnson holds out of training camp for a new contract, said Hasselbeck's energy was infectious.

"He was so like, 'Go, go, let's go, let's go,' it was almost kind of refreshing," Ringer said. "He was fresh, so it was kind of making all of us try to keep up with him so it felt good."

The Titans eased in their new batch of players, a list that included returning veterans such as defensive ends Dave Ball and Jacob Ford, fullback Ahmard Hall, linebackers Tim Shaw and Patrick Bailey and offensive tackle Mike Otto. Cornerback Frank Walker was signed Thursday.

Smith said it felt good to hear that he could finally go to work.

"I was signed here to do a job, and I just felt I wasn't able to fulfill my job," Smith said.

New Titans coach Mike Munchak might have been the happiest. He planned to have the players in pads but changed that to avoid overworking them in their first practice. He said Hasselbeck worked so fast that the team was able to add a couple periods on a night when it addressed the 2-minute drill and goal-line plays.

"I thought he was a young rookie, he was so excited to be out here, and the way he was calling plays in the huddle and the speed," Munchak said of Hasselbeck. "I thought we had a good tempo going up until now, but he really picked things up even another notch. That's why I can add periods. We're finishing things so quickly, and the quarterbacks have really been making sure of that."

Notes: WR Damian Williams walked off the field with a trainer after colliding with S Michael Griffin going for a ball during the 2-minute drill. ... S Jordan Babineaux, whose agent said he agreed to a one-year deal with the Titans earlier Thursday, is expected to join the team Friday.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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