After finishing the worst season of his career, both statistically and in the win-loss column, its no wonder Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck wants to put 2008 in his rear-view mirror.
The Seahawks finished with a 4-12 record, the organization's lowest mark since the team's 2-14 campaign in 1992.
And uneven quarterback play had a lot to do with that. Hasselbeck played in only nine games, finishing with a career-worst 57.8 passer rating with only five touchdowns, 10 interceptions and 1,216 yards thrown for a 52.2 completion percentage.
Hasselbeck said he felt better throwing the ball on Tuesday. He showed a bit of rust throwing the ball, but seemed to move around well in the pocket and during quarterback drills.
"I thought Matt looked good," said Seattle head coach Jim Mora. "I didn't concentrate just on Matt. But I did notice that first throw of team, and he zipped it in there well. I thought he moved around well. I thought he had good command. I was impressed with Matt. I'm very optimistic."
One thing that Hasselbeck would have liked is a redo in the way his injury was handled in the media, with the uncertainty of whether or not he would play with a bulging disk in his back each week after taking a vicious hit from Dallas defensive lineman DeMarcus Ware in the Thanksgiving day game, which essentially ended his season.
Each week afterward Hasselbeck was listed as questionable on the team's injury report, when in reality he knew the likelihood of him playing before the team finally shut him down at the end of the season was slim. Hasselbeck missed nine games, the most games he has sat out since becoming the starter for the Seahawks in 2002.
"I know last year was really hard and frustrating," Hasselbeck said after practice on Tuesday. "Personally how it was handled every week, wondering (whether he was going to play or not), I think that made it harder, knowing the truth. But it's something that was last year. And like pretty much everything last year, I think we all just kind of want to put last year behind and almost forget it and start on this year."
Hasselbeck said the back problems are behind him and that surgery was unnecessary. The condition of his back has been helped by Canadian physiotherapist Rick Celebrini, said Hasselbeck. Celebrini also helped Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash recover from his ailing back issues.
Hasselbeck said core exercises learned from Celebrini that he continues to use with Seahawks trainers helped strengthen his torso enough so he did not need surgery.
Asked when his back felt good again, Hasselbeck said he's felt okay since the end of December.
Hasselbeck, who turns 34 on Sept. 25, also said it's important to connect and earn the confidence of several of the younger players on the team who haven't been through the playoff success the Seahawks recently experienced.
"The guys that I've kind of gone through the fire with, that know me, that I had the opportunity to earn their respect, those guys aren't here," Hasselbeck said. "It's a brand new locker room. I wasn't teammates with these guys when we—whatever, fill in the blank—beat Carolina in the championship game, or came back against the Rams, whatever it is. I think each and every year, you've got to become a team and then earn the respect of your teammates."
Hasselbeck also reiterated his comments about the Seahawks potentially taking a guy with the No. 4 overall pick, stating if Seattle decides to select a young quarterback like Georgia's Matthew Stafford or USC's Mark Sanchez they'll be sitting on the bench for awhile.
"It won't change anything that I do," Hasselbeck said. "I'm getting ready to play football this year. I'm going to play football this year. It's always been a joke for me. I don't feel good about first-rounders, not meaning guys on my own team, but when (Trent) Dilfer was here, when I played with Rick Mirer…because I was a sixth round pick. I don't watch the draft on Saturday. I watch the draft on Sunday.
"It's never been that big of a deal to me, but my advice to myself, I guess, would be what I would tell—what I have told—teammates: don't worry about that. Just worry about you, and worry about how you can help the team get better, and everything takes care of itself. Mel Kiper, when I was picked with pick 187, I think his exact words were something like, 'That's a waste of a pick,' at 187! So, whatever."