Hasselbeck looks shaky in exhibition opener

Pete Carroll promised to install a new ground-oriented attack and zone-blocking schemes. But the Seahawks came out firing in their new coach’s debut.

On Seattle’s first three offensive possessions, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw 11 times in 16 plays.

The first drive stalled after six plays at the Seattle 34, and the Seahawks went three and out on the next drive despite ideal starting position at the Tennessee 39.

Hasselbeck led Seattle on a seven-play scoring drive, capped by 44-yard Olindo Mare field goal early in the second quarter.

Hasselbeck had been limited during the first two weeks of training camp, and he appeared rusty. Titans cornerback Ryan Mouton broke up a long pass intended for Deion Branch on Seattle’s first offensive play, which was a harbinger for Hasselbeck’s night.

The Seahawks quarterback completed just 4 of 10 passes for 26 yards. He was sacked for a 7-yard loss and had four passes batted away.

Hasselbeck wasn’t expected to play long and he went to the bench in the second quarter, giving way to Charlie Whitehurst.

Hasselbeck said he’s coming to grips with the limited amount of work.

“It almost reminds me back of my first three years, where I wasn’t getting a lot of snaps and I was just sort of watching practice,” said the 34-year-old Hasselbeck, who spent 1998 to 2000 backing up Brett Favre in Green Bay. “You almost get spoiled getting all the reps, and it’s not much fun to go back to that.

“But that’s just part of it and it’s part of how we’re doing things. It’s probably the smarter way to go.”

Hasselbeck was injured for most of Seattle’s past two dismal seasons. Preserving him has been one of Carroll’s main goals.

It’s no coincidence Hasselbeck hobbled through the past years with a back and oblique injuries while the Seahawks compiled a 9-23 record.

Given the quarterback’s history, Carroll has lightened his load during the training camp.

“It’s been a conscious decision to make sure that we’re preparing him as well as we can,” Carroll said. “We think part of that is being wise about the numbers of reps that he gets.

“It’s just an effort to keep him as strong as possible throughout. … I think also the decision gives the other guys chances.”

One of the top priorities during the exhibition season is finding a reliable backup at quarterback.

Whitehurst is trying to jump-start his career after spending the past four years as a backup in San Diego, while J.P. Losman continues his NFL comeback. The former Buffalo quarterback began last season playing for Las Vegas in the United Football League and finished the season on the Oakland Raiders’ roster.

“One of the reasons that you can limit Matt’s snaps is because he’s so gifted at the game,” Carroll said. “He just understands it. He gets it.”