Notebook: Hasselbeck Fully Practices, Expected to Start Sunday

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Matt Hassebeck practiced fully on Friday, arguably his favorite practice day of the week.

Hasselbeck (calf) missed Wednesday's practice and was limited Thursday, but he returned to the field Friday for the Titans' weekly red zone and hurry-up offense regimen. The 13-year NFL veteran enjoys all practices but the speed, tempo and challenge required for Friday practices elevate that day.

"Matt was able to do quite a bit," Titans coach Mike Munchak said. "He looks good. He looks like we hoped he would, so I assume he'll be able to play and start on Sunday."

Munchak said Hasselbeck's official status for Sunday's game at Indianapolis will be questionable, and rookie QB Jake Locker (sore chest) will be listed as probable in case Hasselbeck has any setbacks before Sunday. Hasselbeck said Thursday during his weekly press conference that he was in line with the plan that he, coaches and doctors set Monday, and Locker said he was preparing to be ready whenever called upon like any other week. Hasselbeck said many Titans are bruised but they are focused on winning their final three games.

"Physical and mental toughness, especially at this point in the season, is important for everybody on our team," Hasselbeck said. "There's tons of guys playing with all kinds of injuries but they don't necessarily get the attention that injuries at the quarterback position get. But there's guys … doing everything they can to get out there."

Tennessee (7-6) defeated Indianapolis (0-13) 27-10 in October and must prevail again to give itself the best shot at one of two AFC Wild Card berths.

Hasselbeck said the Colts look like a much tougher team on film than their record indicates, citing the play of safety Antoine Bethea, linebacker Pat Angerer and defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Freeney (101.5 career sacks) and Mathis have combined for 181 career sacks and have forced 80 fumbles since 2002.

Hasselbeck joked that it was a good time to have his mobility limited because he "wasn't going to outrun Freeney or Mathis anyway." Neither Freeney nor Mathis got to Hasselbeck in the first meeting. That's a credit to Tennessee's pass protection, which is giving up the second fewest sacks per pass attempt in the NFL, and to the Titans having a 20-0 halftime lead.

Getting the lead early will be important for Tennessee, which has won the three road games in which it has led at the end of the first quarter and lost the three road games in which it has trailed at the end of the first quarter.

MCCOURTY TO RETURN: Cornerback Jason McCourty, who suffered a concussion at Buffalo on December 4, has been cleared to play Sunday.

"It's good to be back out there this week and get ready for Sunday," McCourty said.

McCourty, Cortland Finnegan and Alterraun Verner played significant amounts of time in the first meeting with the Colts, who frequently line up three or more receivers.

The trio limited Curtis Painter to nine completions for 88 yards in the first half, by containing Pierre Garcon, Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie. Painter made 17 completions for 162 yards in the second half after the Titans shifted to more of a prevent style defense.

Indianapolis has since benched Painter and gone with Dan Orlovsky, who is 61-of-95 passing for 611 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in two starts.

"We've got to go out there and have a good day for us," McCourty said. 

KLUG'S 'QUICKS' HELP WITH SACKS: Rookie defensive tackle Karl Klug recorded his team-leading fifth and sixth sacks of the season last week against New Orleans. Klug benefitted from a coverage sack in the first half, dropping Drew Brees for a loss of seven, and burst through the line in the fourth quarter for another sack before Brees had time to get rid of the football.

"I was kind of getting vertical on (Saints guard Carl Nicks)," Klug said. "Maybe he was thinking I was going outside on him and I just caught him inside."

Munchak said Klug is quick and efficient with his movement against interior linemen, and he's building on his pass rush skills by adding to his ability to defend run plays.

"We knew he could pass rush, now it's just getting used to some of the other things that go on in the NFL," Munchak said. "As far as pass rush goes, I think he's as good as anybody inside. He's very good with his hands, quick, great balance, no wasted movement. I think those guys are scarier for people. It's not like he gets destroyed in the run game by any means, it's just that if someone is running the power play, they're double teaming him all day."

OTHER INJURIES: Munchak said linebacker Gerald McRath (ankle and knee) will be out Sunday. McRath hurt both areas during the same special teams play last week and will be replaced by recent signee Kevin Malast. Munchak said the hamstring of LB Patrick Bailey, who blocked a punt that McCourty recovered for a touchdown against the Colts, is doing better. Punter Brett Kern (flu) missed Friday's practice, but should be OK for Sunday, Munchak said.

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