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Thoughts as Seattle rules out Hasselbeck

The Seattle Seahawks have ruled out quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for Week 9 roughly 24 hours after coach Pete Carroll said he expected Hasselbeck to start.

Big shock? Not really. This is becoming a pattern with Carroll.

The Seahawks' glass-half-full coach said Monday he thought left tackle Russell Okung might practice Wednesday despite a high-ankle sprain suffered less than two weeks earlier. Okung did not practice. Carroll's optimism in previous weeks -- regarding Chester Pitts' progress and Okung's availability, to cite two examples -- also erred on the optimistic side.

The decision to rest Hasselbeck makes sense on numerous fronts even if doctors cleared the quarterback (update: they did not). Making this move allows the team to evaluate Charlie Whitehurst without benching Hasselbeck. It allows Hasselbeck to avoid further injury playing behind an injury-riddled line against a strong New York Giants pass rush.

Whitehurst is much more of a downfield thrower than Hasselbeck. His touch on shorter passes wasn't as good during the exhibition season, when Seattle essentially ran two offenses -- one for Hasselbeck, one for Whitehurst.

Naming Whitehurst the starter this late in the week raises potential challenges for the Seahawks and especially the Giants. Was Seattle's game plan in place under the assumption Hasselbeck would play? The coaching staff had to know Hasselbeck's status was in question even while Carroll expressed optimism publicly. The Giants, meanwhile, will be facing an offense that differs from the one they've seen on video to this point in the season.

The Seahawks' ability to protect the quarterback remains a key variable independent of the quarterback change. This is a tough situation for Whitehurst, but it was going to be tough for Hasselbeck, too. The situation becomes much more interesting for Seattle if Whitehurst plays well and the Seahawks win the game. Then what?