Palmer Expects Spagnuolo to Blitz Early, Often

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee offensive coordinator Chris Palmer knows St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo well from their time with the Giants, so he will make sure Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker are ready to be blitzed early and often Saturday night.

"I know we may get blitzed coming off the bus," Palmer said. "That'll be a nice situation. We'll be able to test our protections and see how the quarterbacks have thrown with the blitzes. It should be a good test for us."

The Titans allowed only one sack in their 14-3 preseason opening win over Minnesota. Locker was sacked in the second quarter. Hasselbeck will get about 20 plays before Locker takes over and likely plays into the third quarter. Locker knows already to expect pressure.

"We're going to make sure we're on top of that, hopefully not get caught getting sacked and holding the ball when they're coming with pressure," Locker said. "Get the ball out and have answers for it and try to move the ball effectively."

St. Louis got the Titans' attention by beating the Colts 33-10 last week. The Rams held the ball for more than 36 minutes, which will test a Tennessee offense that will be without Chris Johnson during his contract holdout. The Titans moved the ball well in the first half but failed to put up points on two long drives early.

Hasselbeck got to see the Rams' defense twice in 2010 while with Seattle. He views this game as a good mental test.

"They play just about every coverage. They do every blitz. They don't have any mental errors. They do a really good job. They had a great game last week against the Colts. It's going to be a challenge especially playing a team like that in the preseason. It's not who you're hoping to play in the preseason," Hasselbeck said.

NO SECOND THOUGHTS: St. Louis used the No. 1 pick overall on Sam Bradford in the 2010 draft, a selection the Rams might have used on Jake Locker if he hadn't decided to return for his senior season at Washington.

Locker wound up the second quarterback taken this past April when Tennessee grabbed him with the eighth overall pick, and Locker wouldn't change a thing.

"He had a great first year with them," Locker said of Bradford. "He's a great quarterback. It's fun to watch him, and I wish him the best of luck. But I've said it many times. I don't regret the decision I make and don't wonder what would've happened if I would've changed it."

Bradford was named The Associated Press' NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and threw for more than 3,500 yards.

Locker said Bradford's success was inspiring.

"I think it's just an example of a guy that's done things the right way, went in and wasn't always perfect but played hard, prepared every week and overall was able to have success," Locker said.

GAGE CATCHING ON?: Justin Gage has lots of size at 6-foot-4 and 204 pounds, and he's made some spectacular catches for Tennessee. But the receiver going into his ninth year is among those veterans needing to show the new coaching staff that he's worth keeping around this season.

Gage made a leaping, one-handed catch Thursday that was among the highlights of training camp.

Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer said Gage was excellent at run blocking and could play multiple positions. But Gage hasn't played in all 16 games since 2007 due to a variety of injuries.

"Probably just staying healthy, having him for 16 games," coach Mike Munchak said of Gage's biggest challenge. "He blocks well, he's very consistent, and there are a lot of things that excite you. It's just a matter of keeping that group healthy and keeping him on the field. That's been hard to do for us the last few years."

DIRECTIONS PLEASE: Matt Hasselbeck signed his new three-year contract the day training camp opened July 29, and he's been pretty busy in training camp since then, so he's just now starting to find his way around Nashville.

His family is in town and already has been busy. Hasselbeck had been staying at the team hotel until this week. Not that being in the same house really helps him see his family.

"They'll be asleep tonight when I get home, and they'll be asleep when I leave in the morning," Hasselbeck said. "It's camp."

Hasselbeck spent the past 10 years in Seattle. When news broke that he was headed to Nashville, he said people told him that he'd love Music City and that the people were great. He hasn't had a chance to meet many people either.

"I've barely experienced anything," Hasselbeck said. "I barely know how to get to my house. I know how to get to the facility. I know how to get to the stadium. That's about it."

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