Hasselbeck shows great promise, but can he keep it up in games that count?

  • Scott M. Johnson / Herald Writer
  • Saturday, September 1, 2001 9:00pm
  • Sports

By Scott M. Johnson

Herald Writer

SEATTLE – So Matt Hasselbeck led the Seattle Seahawks to scoring drives on his only two opportunities of Saturday’s game. So Hasselbeck completed 4 of 6 passes, including two touchdown passes to lead the Seahawks to a 28-14 win.

Ho-hum. Been there, done that.

Yes, this was only the preseason. And Hasselbeck has been here before.

Now Hasselbeck, who owns the second-best quarterback rating in the NFL over the past three preseasons, will try a new trick. Next Sunday will mark his first-ever start in a regular-season game.

“To be honest, I don’t view the regular season different than the preseason,” Hasselbeck said. “I’m sure guys who’ve played in the regular season will tell me I need to, or coach (Mike) Holmgren will tell me it’s different. But I don’t know. I’m not going to play any differently than I do in the preseason.”

During the current preseason, Hasselbeck completed 36 of 57 passes for 458 yards, with six touchdowns and an interception. Along the way, he compiled the second-best quarterback rating in the NFL over the past four games (115.9).

During the 19 drives with Hasselbeck at the controls this preseason, the team scored eight touchdowns and two field goals, while turning the ball over three times.

His production is similar to what he’s done in Green Bay over the past two preseasons, but Hasselbeck says he’s a better quarterback now.

“I’m playing more conservative,” he said. “I don’t think an incompletion is a bad thing anymore. … I’m playing smarter and listening to my coaches more.”

Even though there were rumblings of a possible quarterback controversy when the team signed Trent Dilfer early in training camp, Hasselbeck has certainly solidified his role as starter during the preseason.

Yet the question remains: Can he do it in the regular season?

“The cool thing for me will be the opportunity to play in some close games: fourth quarter, game on the line,” Hasselbeck said. “Those are fun.”

More injuries at cornerback: Perhaps no position on the Seahawks’ roster is thinner than cornerback, making the knee injury to Ike Charlton during the first half of Saturday’s game an even bigger setback.

Charlton is scheduled to undergo an MRI today, and Holmgren did not want to speculate on his condition.

Veterans Shawn Springs (hamstring) and Willie Williams (broken forearm) have already been knocked out for part of the regular season. Williams is expected to be out for three more weeks, while Springs could miss between one and three games.

“It’s unfortunate, and it’s unusual, to get hit at one position like that,” Holmgren said. “But we’ll go to work on doing something (in free agency) … for a couple weeks anyway.”

The Seahawks have been looking for help at the position since Williams’ injury two weeks ago, but the latest blow makes finding another body even more imperative. Charlton and rookie Ken Lucas were slated to start in next Sunday’s season opener at Cleveland.

Lucas had his best preseason game on Saturday, including one play when he broke up a pass to Albert Connell on fourth-and-3.

“I think I did a real good job today,” Lucas said. “I still have more work to do, but I’m feeling more confident in what I’m doing.”

As of today, the team has only four healthy cornerbacks on the roster: Lucas, third-year veteran Paul Miranda, rookie Harold Blackmon and Wade Davis.

Springs and Williams will remain on the active roster because placing either of them on injured reserve would make them ineligible to play at all this season.

Cutdown day: The Seahawks must make at least 20 roster moves by 1 p.m. today to get down to 53 players.

Most of the players on the bubble are relatively unknown rookies, first-year players and NFL Europe products.

Although most of the team’s roster spots were filled before Saturday’s game even began, a few players on the bubble made one final push to make the roster.

Defensive tackle Jeremy Staat, a former second-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, made four tackles and forced a fumble while turning in his strongest performance of the preseason. Fifth-round draft pick Alex Bannister also made the highlight reels with a 43-yard reception late in the fourth quarter.

“There were some good plays in this football game, and I was happy for the guys who made them,” Holmgren said. “They really give you all they’ve got, and this is always a really tough call for me; it always has been, it always will be.”

Another rookie who may have to sweat out today’s cuts is sixth-round pick Josh Booty, who did not play in a single preseason game. The 26-year-old LSU product and former member of the Florida Marlins’ farm system is the No. 4 quarterback on the depth chart.

“I haven’t been able to get on film – not only for us, but for anybody,” Booty said. “I don’t know exactly what Holmgren’s thinking about not playing me in the preseason, but I’m not upset or anything. I just can’t wait to get out there and prove myself.”

Booty is a candidate to land on the five-man practice squad, which won’t be assembled until Monday.

Only one Seahawks draft pick during Holmgren’s tenure has not made the team: cornerback Steve Johnson in 1999.

Marysville product makes his case: New Orleans tight end Dave Stachelski, a 1994 graduate of Marysville-Pilchuck High School, caught two passes for 22 yards in Saturday’s game.

The second-year player is battling Eddie Williams, Lamont Hall, Johnny Mitchell and Cam Cleeland for one of three, or possibly four, roster spots. Stachelski’s future could come down to whether the team decides to keep four tight ends or go with only three.

Quick slants: Defensive lineman Lamar King suffered a foot injury in the first quarter, but Holmgren said it was not expected to be serious. … Holmgren paid the replacement referees perhaps the best compliment they could have hoped for Saturday. “I don’t think they had a profound effect on the football game,” Holmgren said after the Seahawks’ first game with replacements. “They did a good job.”

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