Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has had several practices to take a look at new quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, and so far he likes what he sees.
“I feel very comfortable with him with the offense,” Carroll said. “He seems to have a sense for it. He’s not lagging behind any of the learning at all. Charlie has a terrific arm and a nice release and all that kind of stuff. The physical stuff is there. Up to this point Charlie has done everything we’ve asked of him, and I think he’s confident in what we’re doing right now.
“But it’s going to come down to playing time and to see how he does, and how he handles game situations.”
Carroll went on to say that Whitehurst is going to get a lot of playing time during the upcoming preseason. Carroll again reiterated one of the reasons the team made the trade for Whitehurst with San Diego is the Seahawks see him as a future starter.
“We think he can become a starter and be a heck of a football player,” Carroll said. “We love the fact that he can move. He’s got good feet and mobility. So there’s nothing but upside at this point, but there are going to be challenges once he gets out there. But so far he’s done very well.”
That said, Carroll emphasized Matt Hasselbeck is still the starter.
“I’m real pleased with Matt being the quarterback right now and being in the lead position in it,” Carroll said. “I have been from the start and I’ve never wavered on that. However, we’re trying to make it as competitive as possible, and trying to push Matt to make him better and elevate Charlie’s game as well. And that’s the way we’re doing it.
“So it will always be a competition in my mind.”
Although San Diego’s offense led by head coach Norv Turner has traditionally been more about pushing the ball downfield, and the West Coast Offense is based on the short passing game, Whitehurst said both offenses have elements of the short and vertical passing game, and the transition to Jeremy Bates’ West Coast offensive system has not been as severe as expected.
“There’s not that much of a difference,” Whitehurst said. “You’re still trying to put points on the board.”
Whitehurst’s physical tools are obvious. He’s got an excellent arm and easily generates velocity on the ball. He has a quick release, and moves well inside the pocket. But there have been times when he appears to be thinking through his reads and does not process the offense as quickly as Hasselbeck.
That’s to be expected. Hasselbeck already knows some of the terminology from his years playing in Mike Holmgren’s version of the West Coast offense, and is ahead of the game in terms of knowing the protection calls, the blitz reads and just the overall philosophy of the offense.
However, Whitehurst said he’s feeling more comfortable with the offense with each rep he gets in practice.
Linebacker Leroy Hill again was not in attendance at today’s OTA workout. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said the team is still waiting on the league office to respond to the issue to find out how they will handle Hill’s situation. Hill was arrested for a domestic disturbance incident in April at his Issaquah home, and the team has excused him from team activities until his legal situation has been resolved.
Asked point blank if Hill will be part of the 2010, Carroll had this to say:
“I am hoping," Carroll said. "He is part of our team. I am hoping he will be. We need to see what that all means but we’ll figure it out when the time comes.”
Carroll said defensively the Seahawks are still trying to get the 5-tech defensive end figured out opposite the “Leo” or “Elephant” position. Red Bryant, Lawrence Jackson and E.J. Wilson have all seen time at that spot, and Carroll continues to be impressed with the development of Bryant after being moved from nose tackle to defensive end.
“If we are able to man that defensive end position with a guy who weighs 330 pounds, that’s a good thing,” Carroll said. “And that’s if we can get Red down to 330, so we’re working on it.”
Carroll said of all the tweaks and experimenting the team has done during the offseason, the change of Bryant to defensive end has looked the most promising.
Tight end John Carlson has continued to be a bright spot in Seattle’s offense. The team has moved in around to better take advantage of his talents and create disadvantages with his length and speed, both on the inside of the defense and on the perimeter.
“He’s a versatile football player,” Carroll said. “And he’s a very good receiver. And we need to put him in positions to be successful.”
Carroll said Brandon Mebane will remain the team’s 3-tech defensive tackle. The team expects his performance to improve this season with another year’s experience and improved strength in the weight room. Colin Cole also remains the team’s top choice at nose tackle, and according to Carroll will take on an even more important role with NFC West opponents like San Francisco, Arizona and St. Louis continuing to focus on the run
“He’s the right kind of body type you’re looking for in what we’re doing,” Carroll said. “You want a big, strong guy. You like that he’s over 300 pounds. He understands the game well and can anchor right there in the middle like you need.”
Deion Branch, who recently had minor knee surgery, did not practice today. Linebacker Will Herring also was not here and is attending to a family matter, according to Carroll. And LenDale White also was not in attendance, and is back in Tennessee handling a matter related to the flooding there, Carroll said, but should be back with the team this week.