Matt Hasselbeck not rattled by race with Jake Locker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee's Matt Hasselbeck knows only too well how quickly a starting job can be lost; the Titans tried to replace him with Peyton Manning in March.

Hasselbeck also likes to compete.

Good thing, since the Titans kicked their quarterback battle into a new gear with their first on-field training activities this week. The Titans are letting Hasselbeck and Jake Locker, the eighth overall draft pick in 2011, fight for the right to be the starting quarterback this season. The veteran got the ball first in team drills this week, and Hasselbeck said he's approaching this year as he does every year.

"The advice I give to guys over the years is, you're not really competing with the guys at your position," Hasselbeck said Friday. "It's probably a faulty view of things. At this level, you're competing with everyone in the world they could find to replace you with, whether they're here yet or not.

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"You know, I almost learned that lesson the hard way this offseason," Hasselbeck said, likely alluding to the Titans' interest in then-free agent Manning. "That's just reality."

Coach Mike Munchak said Friday that Hasselbeck and Locker will split snaps 50-50 while both will work with as many players as possible. The Titans are even splitting up the days when each quarterback speaks to reporters. Hasselbeck spoke Friday, and Locker is scheduled to talk Wednesday after the team's next open session.

Munchak hopes to know which man he wants as his starter by the Titans' third preseason game Aug. 23 against Arizona in Nashville.

It would be easy enough for Hasselbeck to take the attitude that this is his job after the season he had in 2011 for Tennessee (he threw for 3,571 passing yards and 18 touchdowns while starting all 16 games). But he remembers only too well being cut by the Green Bay Packers as a rookie and spending time on a practice squad.

"I really feel like my job is to just be the best quarterback I can be for this team and to be a great teammate and be coachable," Hasselbeck said. "That's really my job, and who plays where and what position, that gets left up to somebody else."

On Friday, both Hasselbeck and Locker had their share of nice throws. Hasselbeck showed great touch on a pass to Damian Williams over Chris Hawkins, and the veteran later hooked up with first-round draft pick Kendall Wright on a long pass where the rookie beat cornerback Alterraun Verner. Locker found Wright himself on a throw out to the left sideline that the receiver had to go down for because the quarterback was avoiding Verner again on the coverage.

Teammates are staying neutral.

"I want to go out there and make it easier on them whatever quarterback it is," running back Chris Johnson said. "I just know I've got to do my job."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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