RENTON - With a playoff berth in the balance, the Seattle Seahawks are preparing to face St. Louis on Sunday evening with a new starting quarterback - Charlie Whitehurst.
Whitehurst will get all the work in practice this week, while starter Matt Hasselbeck tries to recover from the injury that sidelined him early in Sunday’s loss at Tampa Bay, coach Pete Carroll said in his Monday press conference.
“The game plan will be installed and (Whitehurst) is going to take every snap during the week,” Carroll said. “If Matt’s able to bounce back sooner than that, we’ll see what that means.”
Carroll described Hasselbeck’s injury: “It’s kind of in his glute, and kind of in his hip. He’s got two different little areas that he’s concerned with. He’s not in a lot of discomfort, but when he has to turn and move and stride, and all that kind of stuff, that’s where it enters in.”
Carroll said magnetic resonance imaging tests did not rule out Hasselbeck’s return.
“They were very hopeful that he has an opportunity to get back, but we won’t know for days,” the coach said.
Carroll said Whitehurst “started slowly (and) he didn’t feel like he took advantage of a couple (of) opportunities that were out there and kind of made some conservative decisions. As the game went on he did better and felt more comfortable, but just not much happened for us.”
Naming Whitehurst the starter early reduces uncertainty about the position, said Carroll, who also left the door open for Hasselbeck.
“I’m going with Charlie because we know he’s ready to go,” Carroll said. “If we knew (more about Hasselbeck’s injury), we might be able to predict it’s just a very unusual spot that Matt sustained the strain.”
Barring playoffs, Sunday’s game will be the 35-year-old Hasselbeck’s last under contract to the Seahawks.
“Matt’s going to do everything he can (to get back),” Carroll said. “He is absolutely determined to be playing in this game. He’s already stated, ‘I’m going to be there.I’ll be ready for us.’ But we need to find that out.”
The NFL moved the game from a scheduled 1:15 p.m. start to a 5:20 kickoff for NBC’s national broadcast.
Since the game between the Rams (7-8) and Seahawks (6-9) will decide the NFC West title, it was moved into the showcase time slot.
“There’s some significance to that,” Carroll said. “It means a lot, particularly in our division with the playoff considerations that follow.”
The Seahawks have lost seven of their past nine and are in the unusual position of contending despite being three games below .500.
But Carroll is not interested in devaluing the team’s position.
“This is an interesting finish to this season, obviously,” he said. “ If we would have said maybe six weeks ago, ‘What do you think this last game of the season is going to mean?’ Well, we would have said that it probably would have to do with the championship position in our division – and that’s what it’s come down to.”
Carroll said receiver Brandon Stokley will be sidelined and go through the usual post-concussion testing after taking a hit in the loss at Tampa Bay. He did not expect him to get on the field before the end of the week. Left tackle Russell Okung was not at 100 percent during the game after re-injuring his ankle, but Carroll said he pushed to be allowed back in the game. The coach offered no prognosis for Okung’s readiness this week. Carroll did not think the Rams’ win over San Francisco in an early game Sunday, which rendered the Hawks-Bucs game irrelevant in playoff importance, had anything to do with Seattle’s weak performance. Asked specifically about cornerback Marcus Trufant’s apparent coverage lapses, Carroll said: “Tru had a hard game; this was a tough game. We count on Tru to make those plays and he knows that and he’d be the first to tell you.”
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 email@example.com