Charlie Whitehurst’s task got a little easier when Seahawks receiver Mike Williams returned to practice Friday after missing the past couple of days.
Williams, who is bothered by a thigh bruise just above his knee, needed the 90-minute workout to get adjusted to the Seattle quarterback who will make his first NFL start Sunday against the New York Giants.
After a few plays, the Seahawks’ leading receiver noted the difference between Whitehurst and Matt Hasselbeck, who is out with a concussion, has a lot to do with velocity.
“He’s throwing the ball a little different,” Williams said. “It’s coming out faster, with a lot more zip. It will almost knock you over.”
It remains to be seen, however, if Williams can re-create the chemistry with Whitehurst that he had with Hasselbeck.
Three weeks ago, Williams caught 10 passes for 123 yards in a win at Chicago. Two weeks ago, his 11 receptions for 87 yards were instrumental in Seattle’s victory over Arizona.
Williams admitted he hadn’t spent a lot of time with Whitehurst on the field before Friday, but expects they will quickly develop a rapport.
“He kind of reminds me of the guys I grew up playing with,” Williams said. “He’s got the long Jesus hair going. I shouldn’t say Jesus hair, because that’s a little played out. He kind of looks like John Travolta from the that movie ‘Pulp Fiction.’
“Charlie is my kind of guy. He goes out and just plays. Part of being that relationship between a quarterback and a receiver is trust. As receivers, we’ve got to show him that he can trust us to be where we’re supposed to be.”
Even with Williams back, Whitehurst has a tough task in trying to lead the Seahawks (4-3) to a victory over the Giants (5-2) with Seattle’s assortment of injuries.
Rookie offensive tackle Russell Okung (ankle) is “as doubtful as you can get,” coach Pete Carroll said, and backup Tyler Polumbus (knee) is a game-time decision. That elevates reserve guard Chester Pitts into the starting lineup at left tackle, a position at which he hasn’t started since 2005.
Backup Mike Gibson moved into the starting lineup at left guard, which also depletes the reserves.
In addition, rookie receiver Golden Tate is out with an ankle injury, fullback Michael Robinson is doubtful, and Williams admitted he’s still slowed by the thigh bruise. Last week, Oakland held him to just a 27-yard catch during a 33-3 defeat.
“From a media point, everybody is pretty much (saying we’re) going to get killed and (we’re) not going to protect the quarterback and all that mess,” Williams said. “But we feel like the scoreboard is not going to start any way but 0-0. And going back home, we feel comfortable in front of our crowd and what they’re going to bring.
“Our crowd is not going to win the game for us, so we’ve got to still go out there and play and give them reasons to be out of their seats.”
Whitehurst said he wasn’t nervous, but admitted, “I probably will be, but I’m more anxious (and) excited.”
Seahawks players expect Whitehurst will be amped for his first start while realizing he’s going to lean heavily on everyone else if Seattle is going to pull off a giant upset.
“The better we do our job, the easier it will be on Charlie,” tight end John Carlson said. “We just have to do our job in pass protection and give him time. We need to be able to run the football. When we’re asked to make plays, we’ve got to make those plays or else, yeah, it can be real hard for Charlie.”
Carroll, ever the optimist, is banking on the Seahawks’ mojo at Qwest Field — where they’re 3-0 — helping Whitehurst.
“We’re not going to change because our quarterback situation changed,” Carroll said. “We’re going to do what we know how to do and see if we can create some magic in the stadium again, work with the crowd and make the kind of atmosphere that gives us the games that we’ve had here.
“If we play like we’ve been playing here, then it’s going to be really hard on anybody that comes in.”