RENTON — Charlie Whitehurst never got a chance to win the starting quarterback job after Tarvaris Jackson was signed, but on Sunday it appears he’ll get a chance to show what he can do.
Jackson, who suffered a pectoral strain in Seattle’s last game, is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game i
n Cleveland, and while Seahawks coach Pete Carroll kept open the possibility of Jackson playing, all signs points to Whitehurst making his third career start.
“We prepared all week long to get Charlie ready to start and that’s what we’re thinking right now,” Pete Carroll said. “But we’re going to still see what Tarvaris does. He threw well yesterday and feels OK today. We’ll go all the way up to game time to see where he is, but we’ve prepared Charlie and we’re ready to do that.”
If Whitehurst does get the start, it will be his first this season and third since Seattle acquired him in a trade with San Diego prior to last season. He struggled badly in his first start last season, a home loss against the New York Giants, then played well, albeit in a low-risk game plan, in Seattle’s division-clinching win over St. Louis. Whitehurst had perhaps his best game coming in in relief of Jackson two weeks ago, completing 10 of 18 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown to help the Seahawks beat the Giants.
That performance, as well as what Whitehurst has shown in practice over the past two seasons, has the Seahawks confident regardless of who lines up under center.
“Nobody questions whether or not he’s ready to go or whether or not he can get it done,” said receiver Mike Williams. “He’s played well on a big stage for us. . . The locker room has a lot of confidence in him and the coaches have a lot of confidence in him.”
Besides, as Williams points out, one thing will remain consistent whether Jackson, a native of Alabama, or Whitehurst, who grew up in Georgia, is in the game.
“As far as enunciation, they both have a southern drawl, so it’s not going to sound much different to us,” Williams said.
Whitehurst’s primary goal Sunday will be to lead the Seahawks to a win, but he also has a chance to make Carroll think twice about the decision to hand the job to Jackson at the start of training camp. Once it became clear that Matt Hasselbeck wasn’t coming back, Whitehurst hoped he would compete for the starting job. That didn’t happen, but now he’s trying to make the most of the situation and this latest opportunity.
“I wouldn’t say it’s been hard,” Whitehurst said of not getting the starting job. “But — you know, you go to practice, you work hard — I thought there was a chance where there was going to be a time where Tarvaris was going to be injured and I was going to have to come in and play and perform and you just stay ready every day. It’s not really something that I can control. You can’t control who coach plays, but Tarvaris has done a great job, you know. He’s really had a few really good games and you just have to be ready when your number’s called.”
Tight end Zach Miller, who suffered a concussion as well as a neck injury in Seattle’s last game, has been ruled out. That means that, as of Friday, the Seahawks had only one healthy tight end, Anthony McCoy, on their active roster. It is likely the Seahawks will make a move today to add a second tight end, most likely either Cameron Morrah, who returned to practice this week after sitting out the first five games on the physically unable to perform list, or John Nalbone, who is currently on the practice squad.
“We’re going to go right on up until the last minute we can go on Saturday to figure that out and we’re going to take our time,” Carroll said. “But both guys have worked. Cam has worked in the game plan and John Nalbone has worked all week long, so both those guys can play.”
Center Max Unger, who has not practiced since the Giants game because of a foot injury, is listed as doubtful. Lemuel Jeanpierre, a second-year player who spent most of last season on the practice squad, will start in Unger’s place, Carroll said. Right guard John Moffitt could also slide over to center should the Seahawks need a backup to Jeanpierre. Left guard Robert Gallery, who has missed three games following groin surgery, got through the week well and will start, Carroll said.
Bradford back, but at a new position
In the span of only a week, the Seahawks have claimed Allen Bradford off of waivers, released him, and now signed him to their practice squad. Bradford, a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft, has also changed positions in that time. When he was drafted, and when Seattle claimed him off of waivers, Bradford was a running back, but the former USC standout will now play linebacker on Seattle’s practice squad. The move is a bit unusual for an NFL player, but Bradford was recruited to USC as a linebacker by Carroll and linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. before moving to running back as a freshman.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog