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Titans' Jake Locker prepares for mind of Bill Belichick

Jake Locker's first NFL start Sunday will be as much a mental war as it is physical.

The Tennessee Titans' second-year pro quarterback will face the New England Patriots' Bill Belichick, a coach with an impressive resume when it comes to toying with young passers.

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Former Belichick pupil Steve DeOssie, who played linebacker in the NFL for 12 seasons, said it's a challenge to get inside the head of a veteran like Matt Hasselbeck. But taking on a young pup in his first regular-season start offers a coach like Belichick rich possibilities for chaos.

"His basic philosophy is 'make him as uncomfortable as possible in any shape or form possible,' " DeOssie told Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. "Bill's game plan will be about trying to confuse him, and figuring out how he reacts to pressure. It's a mental thing with Bill. ... If you can make it look to a young quarterback like there is no rhyme or reason, then it is going to be much more difficult for the young quarterback."

Our friend Daniel Jeremiah listed Belichick-Locker as one of his five key Week 1 matchups, and he expects the Patriots to stack "bodies near the line of scrimmage to slow down Chris Johnson" and the rush, while unleashing defensive ends Rob Ninkovich and rookie Chandler Jones.

Belichick regularly is labeled a defensive genius. His defense finished 31st in the NFL last season and couldn't stop the run or the pass, but those numbers were tilted because teams spent games playing from behind. Still, it wasn't Belichick's masterwork.

He marches into Sunday with a younger, faster core of players. More like his Patriots teams of old, making this matchup one to watch.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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