NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Jake Locker will start at quarterback Friday night when the Titans visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee coach Mike Munchak said Monday.
The decision is the next step in the evaluation process of the second-year quarterback as he competes on the field with 14-year NFL veteran Matt Hasselbeck.
Munchak said the decision to start Locker is a logical step in the evaluation process that started this offseason and has continued through training camp.
"(Locker) has not had an opportunity to start a game from the beginning," Munchak said. "So that is what we will do, we will start the game with him and then Matt Hasselbeck will come in after he is done."
Hasselbeck started against Seattle, the team he played 10 seasons for before joining the Titans in 2011.
He went 5-for-9 in limited action in his homecoming that started with a bizarre bounce that led to an interception that was returned 23 yards for a touchdown. Hasselbeck also threw an interception on his final pass that was a throw into double coverage that he likely would not attempt in the regular season. It essentially served as a punt on a third-and-15 situation.
Locker entered with 12:40 left in the first half and played the rest of the second quarter. He went 7-for-13 for 80 yards.
Munchak said he wants each quarterback to get about 20 plays against Tampa Bay, but he will take a look at how Locker approaches a start. He was solid in significant action in relief of Hasselbeck three times last season when Hasselbeck suffered injuries.
"Some guys perform better starting or coming off the bench," Munchak said. "It's a position he has not had a chance to be in yet. We want to put him through that drill. We started Matt (Hasselbeck) last week, so we want to do the opposite this weekend."
Nate Washington said the 24-year-old is beyond his years and capable of playing beyond his experience.
"He's probably one of the more mature guys that I've ever met at his age at his position," Washington said. "He does a great job of getting us in order and running the things that we need to do to make sure that we're heading down the right path. I think he does an excellent job of controlling our offense and putting us in the right position, so there's not much we have to say to Jake. It's more just listening to him and following his direction."
PILATES TO PYLON: Running back Darius Reynaud scored both Titans touchdowns against the Seahawks. Reynaud capped a 21-yard rush with a dive across the end zone as he neared the out-of-bounds line. Reynaud dove about 4 yards from the end zone, and even though he was hit by Chris Maragos, kept his legs from touching as he stretched the ball to the inside of the pylon.
He followed that with an 85-yard punt return for a score the next time the Titans touched the ball.
Reynaud, who is in his fourth year, was released by the New York Giants last September after he hurt his hamstring. He didn't get another shot in the NFL in 2011, but signed with the Titans in January.
He said it feels great to be back in the NFL, and his body feels as good as it has since high school.
"It feels good, knowing where I came from," Reynaud said. "Last year I was watching at home. I feel that God touched the hearts of the Titans to give me a chance to come in. I've just got to make the best of my opportunities."
Reynaud has battled hamstring issues since the former star at West Virginia entered the NFL, but feels better this year, he said. Reynaud credited Pilates, additional stretching and making sure he stays hydrated with helping so far in training camp.
"I just do it about two or three times per week," he said. "My mom told me about Pilates, so I tried it a couple of times and it hurts, but it helps. A lot of guys don't believe it, but right now, that's been helping out a lot."
ROOKIES ADJUST TO FIRST NFL GAME:Receiver Kendall Wright and linebacker Zach Brown — the Titans' first and second round picks of the 2012 NFL Draft — said their first preseason game provided learning experiences.
Wright started at receiver and made three receptions for 47 yards, catching the ball each time he was targeted, but said he saw room for improvement.
"I saw on film where I could have had better routes," Wright said. "I was just out there trying to get better and run what I'm supposed to run whether I'm getting the ball or not."
Brown said his first trip to the West Coast disrupted his schedule, but he moved past that when it was time to play.
"The time zone was kind of different to me and messed up my sleep habits," Brown said. "Once I got to the game, I'm not tired. I'm focused and locked in. I was ready to get put in the game, and my first play, I was there and ready to go. It was time to make plays and help my team win the game."
Brown recorded four tackles, including one for a loss, when he dropped Robert Turbin 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
"They ran like a lead zone, so I was just looking at the fullback, and when I saw the fullback, I was like, 'I've got to fit here, on the inside shoulder,' and he just ran right by me and I went and made the play," Brown said.
BRITT UPDATE: Munchak said Titans receiver Kenny Britt has been "running and doing a lot of things" in his recovery from a torn ACL and MCL and three surgical procedures since last fall. Munchak said that Britt may not be ready for the Titans' final preseason game.
Britt is currently on the physically unable to perform list. The Titans will continue to evaluate his progress and eventually make a decision on whether to keep him on PUP at the start of the season, which would prohibit Britt from playing in the first six games.
"He's doing routes now and catching balls," Munchak said. "He obviously can't be in with us on the offensive side of the ball until he's off PUP, but he's progressing. He's doing more and more every day with us, and his knees have been holding up well."
NOTES: The Titans hosted members of the U.S. Air Force 332nd Recruiting Squadron (Eagles) at Monday's practice. … The Titans rested Gerald McRath (knee) to give him an extra day to recover from the sports turf at CenturyLink Field that is harder on knees than natural grass, Munchak said. … Dave Ball (concussion) is still in the conditioning test stage, and Brandon Barden (hamstring) won't be available this week, Munchak said.