Giants' next target? Charlie Whitehurst

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants' defense is now knocking out quarterbacks before games.

Big Blue has taken out five quarterbacks in seven games this season, and Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck, who was sacked eight times against the Raiders last week, seemed like a prime candidate to be No. 6.

But the Seahawks announced Thursday afternoon that Hasselbeck will sit out Sunday's game against the Giants due to a concussion.

It probably was a smart decision, given the Giants' track record against quarterbacks in 2010. They have knocked out Matt Moore, Jay Cutler, Todd Collins, Shaun Hill and Tony Romo in the past seven games.

The next target? Seattle backup Charlie Whitehurst, who will be making his first career start Sunday at Qwest Field.

Whitehurst hasn't thrown a pass in five NFL seasons. And he'll be playing behind a depleted Seattle line; if rookie Russell Okung sits out, Seattle will start its fifth offensive-line combination.

So all indications point to an unfriendly welcome to the NFL for Whitehurst, a third-round draft pick in 2006 out of Clemson.

Of course, none of the Giants -- speaking before Seattle announced Hasselbeck's status -- were willing to admit that Thursday afternoon.

"We'll see what happens. We just can't live off of our past," Justin Tuck said. "Sometimes teams come out and play their best when they're a little banged up."

Sometimes they do, but if the Giants can continue to get to the quarterback at the rate they established prior to the bye week, Whitehurst might be in for a long -- or short -- day Sunday. The Giants are third in the league with 24 sacks; they've hurried the quarterback 69 times and hit him 53 times.

Earlier Thursday, Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said he'd been looking at preseason tape of the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Whitehurst in case Hasselbeck couldn't play.

"If that next guy is back there, we want to make that next guy nervous," Fewell said of Whitehurst.

The thought of Osi Umenyiora's October should do the trick.

Umenyiora picked up NFC player of the month honors Thursday for his monster four-game stretch last month. The Giants' "Mr. October" finished the month with seven sacks, six forced fumbles and 18 tackles, which helped compensate for the loss of Mathias Kiwanuka, who was ruled out for the year with a bulging disk in his neck.

"He's been great from an attitude standpoint, outstanding with his teammates. He has enjoyed playing," Coughlin said of Umenyiora, who was unhappy with his reduced role under 2009 defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan.

Umenyiora hasn't done it alone. Tuck has four sacks and 11 tackles for loss, Jonathan Goff has five sacks, and tackle Barry Cofield has three.

So the thought of the Big Blue front seven should have Whitehurst sleepless in Seattle this weekend.

In addition to knocking out quarterbacks at a ridiculous rate, the Giants' defense has been stout against the run. It limited the Cowboys to just 41 yards on the ground and has held its past four opponents to less than 65 yards rushing.

If the Giants have similar success against Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch on Sunday, it will allow Fewell's defensive line to take a "blood in the water" mentality to the line of scrimmage.

"We're going to be sharks," Fewell said.

Watch out, Charlie Whitehurst.

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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