Things could get hot in Whitehurst’s baptism under fire

Published on November 5, 2010 by     Tacoma News Tribune (Feed)

We can be sure there are valid medical reasons for Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to be held out of Sunday’s game against the New York Giants; nobody wants to see him aggravate his concussion.

Just as certainly, the Seahawks’ staff is intent on winning every time the team plays; and that Hasselbeck, as a hyper-competitive player, wants to be out there on the field.

Still, not pushing Hasselbeck back into action too soon seems a matter of shrewd discretion as well as prudent medical caution. The Seahawks will let backup Charlie Whitehurst take the snaps – and the hits – this week.

The Giants’ destructive defense has knocked five quarterbacks out of games this season. They’ve recorded 24 sacks. Coming out of an Oakland game in which he was sacked eight times and knocked loopy, Hasselbeck does not need to be subjected to the Giants.

At this point, the 4-3 Seahawks are in the NFC West Division race, which few would have envisioned at the start of the season. As such, next week’s divisional game against Arizona is more important than Sunday’s game against the Giants.

Nobody in the NFL would say such a thing, but the reality is the Hawks are long shots to beat New York no matter who plays quarterback. But next week … yeah, they need to take their best shot against the Cardinals.

Coach Pete Carroll usually doesn’t meet with the media on Thursday but came down from his office before practice to make the announcement on Hasselbeck. He said that Hasselbeck’s injury was worse than he initially understood, and that the increased awareness of head injuries is causing everybody around the league to be more thorough in the testing and evaluation process.

Carroll said the game plan had been built this week with the possibility that Whitehurst would be the man, so nothing has changed much in that regard.

Whitehurst has not started a regular-season NFL game, but the Seahawks invested heavily to get him from San Diego and this is a chance to see what he has. Although, it is not exactly the softest landing place for Whitehurst.

Whitehurst said all the things we would expect; about this being an opportunity, and you always prepare for such things. When somebody reminded him of the abuse the Giants have dealt opposing quarterbacks this season, Whitehurst looked as if somebody had cursed him with the Sicilian Evil Eye. Yeah, he said, he’s seen what they’ve done … and thanks so much for bringing it up.

“Charlie moves well,” Carroll said. “Maybe he’ll use his legs more than Matt.”

Yeah, that’s what you do when big, angry people are chasing you.

It’s a little unfair to toss Whitehurst into this, but he’s been collecting weekly checks for watching Hasselbeck take his lumps, so he’s due.

Injuries across the offensive line have increased the quarterback’s vulnerability … as if the Giants needed any help.

“We all know, after last week’s game, we’ve got (targets) across our backs … all five of us up front,” tackle Sean Locklear said. “There’s a big emphasis on us, and everybody’s going to try to hold up our end of the bargain.”

Whitehurst definitely is more mobile, but far, far, far less experienced. To be fair, expectations for him should be very modest. But, in sports, there’s always the chance of the unexpected … he might come in and light it up.

Then the Seahawks would have a far nicer problem in subsequent weeks, sorting through a different issue.

Getting through this game vertically is the first challenge for Whitehurst.

I’d suggest from the start that, at the very least, he’s less likely to suffer a concussion than Hasselbeck. With that thatch of long hair, he’s got more natural protection up top than does the bald Hasselbeck.

Just something to consider.

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