LAKE FOREST – Matt Hasselbeck was prepared to spend this season as a veteran backup to Jake Locker, the Tenneesee Titans’ first-round pick from a year ago.
But when Locker went down because of a shoulder injury in Week 4, Hasselbeck’s plans changed. He took over the starting job Oct. 7 and has led the Titans to a 2-2 record as a starter.
On Sunday, Hasselbeck will make his fifth start of the season against the Bears.
“I definitely didn’t feel I played my best when I first came in,” Hasselbeck said Wednesday on a conference call with reporters at Halas Hall. “I felt the speed of the game was something I didn’t handle very well, but I think starting against Pittsburgh [on Oct. 11], I got back on track and felt in the groove, and I felt back to normal.”
Hasselbeck has faced the Bears five times in his career, which has included stints in Green Bay and Seattle before he joined the Titans in 2011. He has thrown for four touchdowns and three interceptions while winning four of five games against the Bears.
Although he has had success in the past, Hasselbeck said he took nothing for granted.
“I know that they’re a great defense, and have been for a long time,” Hasselbeck said. “Shoot, for like the last 50 years, they’ve kind of been known for having a great defense. It’s one of those teams that you really have to study and understand.”
Never mind: Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice said he altered his game plan in Week 8 after his players started poorly against the Carolina Panthers.
On a play-action pass early in the game, Cutler dropped back and promptly was sacked.
“Say what you want, but I’m just a human,” Tice said. “When I’ve got four of those same plays in and the first one goes for a sack, I’m like, ‘OK, these are off the list.’ So there go three plays.
“I was too nervous to call those other ones because of protection, and they were good chunks that we were going to call on first down. We worked on them all week.”
Injury update: Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery remained sidelined because of a hand injury and is not expected to play this weekend against the Titans.
“He’ll be out for a while, still,” Bears coach Lovie Smith.
Meanwhile, tight end Matt Spaeth was limited during practice because of a sore ankle.