RENTON - Everybody loves the backup.
Emboldened by the surprisingly good play of newcomer and reserve quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and the early game struggles of starter Matt Hasselbeck last week, Seattle Seahawks fans are burning up the radio airwaves and the Internet chat rooms in an effort to stir up an early quarterback controversy in Seattle.
But Hasselbeck, Whitehurst and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll are not taking the bait. Whitehurst said after the exhibition Saturday that it was nice to play well, but he understands it was only one game.
“You’d like to go out and play well every time,” Whitehurst said. “It’s nice that it’s the first one, but it doesn’t mean all that much.”
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Hasselbeck, a 12-year veteran who hasn’t had any serious competition since Trent Dilfer left Seattle after the 2004 season, understands the situation.
“It’s just part of the game,” Hasselbeck said. “It happens. I’ve been a part of it where I was the other guy. I’m sure it won’t be the last time with Charlie because he’s a good player with a lot of ability, a lot of potential. And he’s good.
“I’m happy for him. I’m happier for him than I’m distracted or upset by the hoopla that it creates. And I really do want him to be successful. That same thing goes for J.P. (Losman). I really want both of those guys to play well.”
Hasselbeck understands he struggled in his first action of the exhibition season. In three series in the opening quarter against Tennessee, Hasselbeck completed four of 10 passes for 26 yards and a 47.9 passer rating.
“I got graded pretty tough, like I would expect to,” Hasselbeck said. “And I should have finished the day probably 6-for-10, or 7-for-10. It could have been cleaner, a little more crisp.
“I probably lacked a lot of energy and enthusiasm when I was out there, which is something that I have to bring to the table. It’s something that we’ve had here at practice, but we’ve got to transfer that to a preseason game, even if it’s just a preseason game. You still have to bring all of that stuff.”
Whitehurst fared much better, finishing 14-of-22 for 214 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception for a 107 passer rating. The performance was Whitehurst’s best game statistically in his five years of exhibition play. But he has yet to throw a pass during a regular-season NFL game.
And Whitehurst’s preseason statistics during his four years in San Diego are nothing to blush about. He finished 104-of-197 (52.8 percent) for 1,031 yards, tossing five touchdowns and seven picks for a 61.5 passer rating.
Still, for two quarters against the Tennessee Titans in an exhibition, Whitehurst looked like he could be the heir apparent at the quarterback position.
At the center of the issue has been Hasselbeck’s lackluster play the past two seasons. He has missed 11 games because of injuries over that span, and he threw as many interceptions (17) as touchdowns last season. Some observers question whether a 34-year-old quarterback in the final year of his contract has anything left in reserve for a team trying to return to playoff contention.
Still others see Hasselbeck as a three-time Pro Bowl selection who led the Seahawks to their only Super Bowl appearance five years ago.
“It’s just the nature of sports and football, and playing this position,” Hasselbeck said. “And if you can’t handle it, then you’re probably playing the wrong position anyway.
“If talk radio, or newspapers or whoever wants to stir up a thing (it’s) not surprising. It happens on just about every team everywhere. My advice to other quarterbacks is it has nothing to do with you. Just try and be the best you can be. And again, the best thing for our team is if all of our quarterbacks keep getting better and playing at a high level.”
Hasselbeck hopes he can erase the memory of last week with a good performance on Saturday against Green Bay, (7 p.m., Channel 5) and he expects to get more repetitions against the Packers.
“As the preseason goes, there’s kind of a schedule,” he said. “And you usually play a little bit more in the second, a little bit more in the third, and a lot less in the fourth.
“The coaches really haven’t said anything, so I think you’ve just got to prepare the same way for all of them.”
But Carroll also would like to get Whitehurst more reps on Saturday, possibly with the first unit. So it will be interesting to see how he manages the two quarterbacks this week.
“We’ll see,” Carroll said. “It depends on how we are up front when we get to game time, but Charlie’s going to play in a lot of games. We’re going to continue to get him his play time to really get him ready.”
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 firstname.lastname@example.org
Seahawks Training Camp
Balmer happy to be in Seattle
Defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer, acquired by Seattle in a trade with San Francisco, passed his physical and got in some limited practice Tuesday. Balmer worked inside at the 3-tech and also some defensive end at the 5-technique.
After only a few repetitions in team drills, Balmer talked to reporters for a few minutes after practice.
So, what happened between you and San Francisco head coach Mike Singletary, he was asked in several ways. Balmer wasn’t telling.
“I can understand how it strikes people as a little different,” he said. “But like I said, what happened down there is down there. I’m here ready to move forward, happy to have a fresh start, and ready to compete.”
Balmer said joining former North Carolina teammate and fellow defensive lineman E.J. Wilson, a rookie, will help with transition. And he also looks forward to playing his former team, the San Francisco 49ers, in Seattle’s regular-season opener on Sept. 12 at Qwest Field.
“It’s going to be a game,” he said. “Like I said, the 49ers and Seattle always have great games, always have great competition. I look forward to it being like that. There’s no hard feelings. I thank the 49ers for giving me an opportunity and allowing me to move on.”
LoJack is back
After sitting out since the third day of training camp to nurse a lingering hamstring issue, defensive end Lawrence Jackson returned to team drills on Tuesday.
“That’s the thing with injuries – you just have to trust the training staff and be diligent with your rehab,” Jackson said. “It felt pretty good today. We’ll see how it feels in the morning. But it felt pretty good.”
Jackson mostly worked at the Leo position with the second and third units. He said it’s a position where he feels comfortable, but he is also willing to swing to the other side and play some 5-technique if asked.
“There’s no question that a bigger guy is what they want,” Jackson said. “Can I play that side? Yes. I don’t feel like I need to beef up. I came in at 275. And then when they said, ‘Well, you can stay at this spot (Leo).’ Then I trimmed down. So it wasn’t a matter of bulking up or not. So I’m pretty much at my natural weight (270 pounds).”
“I knew it was a good organization. I knew they had a great team, very competitive, always had a lot of (fight), no quit in them. You can respect that as an opponent.”
– Defensive end Kentwan Balmer, on his impressions of the Seahawks before the trade.
Eric D. Williams, staff writer