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Hasselbeck returns to Seahawks, but Whitehurst in line to start

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was limited in practice Friday in his first work of the week, leaving open the possibility that he could play Sunday night against the St. Louis Rams.

But while Hasselbeck appears to be making strides in his recovery from a hip injury, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll appears ready to go with Charlie Whitehurst behind center in the prime-time showdown for the NFC West title.

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"Charlie's going, we've been committed to that because that's what we can count on, that's what we know," Carroll told *The Herald* of Everett, Wash., on Friday. "We'll go to game time and see what happens."

Hasselbeck will be listed as questionable for the winner-take-all matchup against the Rams. He suffered a hip strain during the first quarter of last Sunday's loss at Tampa Bay.

Hasselbeck pulled up lame while running into the end zone on a bootleg in which he wasn't touched. He went to the ground wincing and was forced to leave the game and didn't return.

Carroll said he was surprised by the amount of work that his No. 1 quarterback was able to do Friday.

"He's not ready to play a game today, but he got some work done and he needed to feel getting in the huddle and making his calls," the coach said. "It's going to make him feel better about the plan if he had a chance to play. I think we've done everything we can do at this point."

Carroll cautioned that Hasselbeck's return to practice guarantees nothing about his status for Sunday.

"This is just a step, this is the first step to figuring out how Matt can handle the physical stuff," Carroll said. "I don't want us to be distracted by that. He's diligently going about preparing to play, and that's exactly what we need him to do.

Whitehurst took all the snaps in practice Wednesday and Thursday. It would be his second career start.

The Seahawks' game plan has been tailored to Whitehurst's strengths as they attempt to become the first team with a losing record to win a division. A win would make Seattle 7-9.

"It's Charlie's second start of his life in the NFL, so we have to keep that in mind that we've got to take care of him and make sure he can play a game that he's really in command of by the way we call it and direct it and all of that," Carroll said. "That's been the intention throughout the week, and he's very much in command of what we're doing."

Whitehurst started against the New York Giants in Week 9, and the Seahawks were dominated 41-7. Whitehurst threw for 113 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions.

Whitehurst has appeared in relief of Hasselbeck in four other games. Whitehurst has completed 56 percent of his passes and owns a passer rating of 54.7 in five games.

"Charlie's ready to go," Carroll said. "In my mind, that's how we go until we know otherwise or we have more information."

Seahawks tight end John Carlson told NFL Network that the team has faith in Whitehurst.

"Charlie's got a big arm that's capable of making all the throws he needs to make," Carlson said. "In terms of experience, he obviously doesn't have what Matt has, but we've got a lot of confidence in him, in his ability and what he can do for us."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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