NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Matt Hasselbeck managed to return for one play after rookie Jake Locker had the wind knocked out of him. The Titans veteran quarterback completed a pass, then hopped gingerly back to the sideline.
Hasselbeck said after a 22-17 loss Sunday to the New Orleans Saints he figured he was a better option under center than tight end Daniel Graham.
And Hasselbeck's very happy with what he thinks is a strained left calf rather than an Achilles tendon injury he originally thought he might have after feeling something pop in his leg.
"I'm not in pain. It doesn't hurt that much,'' Hasselbeck said of what he hopes is just a strain.
"We'll get an MRI on it in the morning and just see how bad it is.''
New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham also played hurt after injuring his back in pregame warmups. John Gilmore started at tight end for the Saints, but Graham caught five passes for 55 yards.
Graham said he caught a ball awkwardly during pregame routes but never thought about not playing even though Saints coach Sean Payton kept asking if he was too hurt.
"I'm gritting, I'm gritting and then eventually it kind of loosened up on me a little bit,'' Graham said. "Pretty much the whole game I was in constant pain. We've got a couple of games to get better.''
Hasselbeck had plenty of company with injuries on the Titans' sideline. Linebacker Gerald McRath was carted off the sideline after hurting his left knee and ankle on kickoff coverage. Running back Javon Ringer hurt a hand, and linebacker Akeem Ayers hurt a shoulder.
But Hasselbeck said it was frustrating watching most of the game, including all of the second half, from the sideline. He was hurt with 11:13 left in the second quarter after Saints tackle Shaun Rogers tipped his pass into the air.
The Titans quarterback ran up toward the line after the ball, then came up hopping without putting his foot down. Hasselbeck sat down on the field where he was tended by a doctor and team trainers before gingerly walking to the sideline.
Locker replaced him and threw for 282 yards before being sacked on the final play to end a comeback attempt.