Time is running out for Charlie Whitehurst.
Only one exhibition remains, one last chance to impress a new coaching staff before trading his Seahawks helmet for a baseball cap and a spot on the sidelines.
Unless something goes terribly awry with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks this fall, Thursday’s 7 p.m. exhibition at Oakland is the last time Whitehurst will receive meaningful minutes in a game this season.
“It’s probably not something you’ll hear a lot of guys say, but I’m glad that we have this fourth game,” he said. “It’s important for us to do some things in this fourth game. Try to get the run going. Try to make some plays. Try to become more efficient on offense.
“For a lot of guys, and I’m probably in the same boat, you don’t know when you’ll really get to play again so you have to make the most of the situation.”
Aside from fine-tuning the offense, there’s very little for the Seahawks to accomplish against the Raiders because most starters have been identified.
A trio of running backs — Leon Washington, Justin Forsett and Julius Jones — are vying for the No. 1 spot and the left side of the offensive line, which has been decimated with injuries, is still undefined.
Otherwise the major personnel questions have been answered and coach Pete Carroll’s primary tasks is filling out the bottom of the depth chart. NFL teams must reduce the 75-man roster to 53 on Saturday.
“This is another important opportunity for us to get better,” he said. “It’s also a final opportunity for us to make our final choices on some guys too, so it’s going to be a critical ballgame for a bunch of players.”
The starters aren’t likely to play more than a series or two against the Raiders leaving the bulk of the game to reserves fighting for a roster spot or battling to solidify their spot on the team.
Put Whitehurst in the latter category.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound quarterback is entrenched as Hasselbeck’s understudy although his last two outings have raised questions whether he’s Hasselbeck’s heir apparent.
During four seasons in San Diego, Whitehurst was a third-string reserve and he never played as much as he has this season.
“I knew that this is what preseason is about,” he said. “There’s some good and some bad. You try to keep a level head.”
Whitehurst didn’t get swept up in the enthusiasm following his scintillating Seahawks debut more than two weeks ago and he’s not wallowing in despair after a pair of forgettable games.
Somewhere in the middle of those polarizing performances Whitehurst is “finding a comfort level with this offense.”
“It’s a process,” he said. “Obviously there were some good things in the first game. And there were some good things in the next two. It’s about consistency and that’s what I’m striving for.
Perhaps Whitehurst isn’t as electric as he appeared when he threw for 214 yards and two touchdowns in the exhibition opener against the Tennessee Titans.
Admittedly, he can improve after games against Green Bay (9-for-20 passing, 73 yards) and Minnesota (12 of 26, 138 yards) when he combined for three interceptions, two sacks and one touchdown.
Carroll said Whitehurst has “had a very successful preseason,” but said he’s disappointed with the interceptions.
“He’s had a play in there in each game that is really regrettable, you know the turnovers,” Caroll said.
“He’s had four (interceptions) I think in the games he’s played.”
Newcomer J.P. Losman, Seattle’s third quarterback, is also expected to play extensively in the second half. He sat out the past two games and completed just 3 of 5 passes for 7 yards in the exhibition opener.
“It’s a chance to see where I’m at and give myself some confidence,” Losman said. “I don’t ever want to get used to not playing, but that’s the situation I’m in right now so I got to make the most of it.”