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Originally published Monday, October 24, 2011 at 8:39 PM

Seahawks QB Charlie Whitehurst may get another start Sunday

Despite a poor outing in Cleveland, Whitehurst is still the backup, and he may be needed again this week since coach Pete Carroll could offer no guarantee on Monday that Tarvaris Jackson would be ready for Sunday's game.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

Cincinnati Bengals @ Seahawks, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 7

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RENTON — Backup quarterbacks are like communism. They tend to work better in theory, while real-world applications can be a little more problematic.

That was evident last year when Charlie Whitehurst subbed for an injured Matt Hasselbeck in Seattle's eighth game of the season. The Seahawks went out and laid a 41-7 egg against the New York Giants.

It was just as evident Sunday in Cleveland when Whitehurst started in place of Tarvaris Jackson. The Seahawks lost 6-3 and finished with 137 total yards, their second-lowest total of any game in the previous 10 seasons.

"It was a hard go," coach Pete Carroll said. "I think that's the toughest time Charlie has had in the games that he's played in. I know he didn't feel real good about it."

Hard to think of anyone outside of Cleveland who felt good about it. But Whitehurst is still the backup, and he may be needed again this week since Carroll could offer no guarantee Jackson will be ready for Sunday's game.

"We're just going to start over again this week and see where it is," Carroll said. "We'll just take it one day at a time and see how it goes."

The news wasn't any better elsewhere for the Seahawks on Monday.

Cornerback Walter Thurmond will be out four to six months after undergoing surgery to repair an injured ankle and broken leg. He was placed on injured reserve, replaced on the roster by rookie Ron Parker, who was claimed off waivers from the Raiders. Parker was with Seattle during training camp, then was released from the practice squad in September.

In fact, some things about Sunday looked worse in retrospect, such as the penalty that nullified Leon Washington's 81-yard punt return for a touchdown.

"I didn't think that was a call that should have been made," coach Pete Carroll said. "That was unfortunate."

The penalty was called near midfield, and replays showed minimal contact between Seahawks cornerback Kennard Cox and the Browns' Kevin Dockery.

"There's a lot of calls that happen at light speed out there that are challenging to call, and that was one," Carroll said. "Unfortunately, it was the play of the game for us."

The fact that Seattle couldn't find any other way into the end zone was a commentary on the offense under Whitehurst. In his three career starts, the Seahawks have scored a total of 26 points.

So where do the Seahawks and Whitehurst go from here?

"Clearly evaluate what happened," Carroll said of Sunday's game. "Get to the truth of what happened."

The truth is that Whitehurst faced a heap of pressure in the first quarter, was sacked three times in the first half and never effectively threw down the field. Of his 12 completions, four were to wide receivers, and only one of those completions resulted in a gain of more than 11 yards.

He underthrew a wide-open Ben Obomanu in the first half, and underthrew Sidney Rice in the third quarter, resulting in an interception.

It was a step back for Whitehurst, but was it the end of the road? Not necessarily. He remains ahead of rookie Josh Portis on the depth chart, and Carroll has not closed the book on the quarterback Seattle acquired a year ago.

"If Charlie is starting this week, I would like him to be more comfortable on game day," Carroll said. "Just be in control of the stuff that we try to do and not try too much and try too hard.

"Charlie has a good conservative nature about him to take care of the football for the most part. That's good. But we need him to just be comfortable and start playing and rip the ball around a little bit more than we did."

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

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