Seahawks to start QB Hasselbeck after he's cleared to play

RENTON, Wash. -- Matt Hasselbeck is back at the helm of the Seattle Seahawks.

Hasselbeck, who suffered a concussion that forced him to miss the Seahawks' game last week against the New York Giants, has been cleared to lead Seattle against Arizona in a key NFC West showdown Sunday.

"I'm very excited to be back," Hasselbeck said. "Last week was tough for me. The obstacles to get back on the football field from a concussion are much bigger now. I wasn't about to make it back last week, but I'm back."

Hasselbeck was brutalized in the Seahawks' 33-3 loss two weeks ago to the Oakland Raiders. He was sacked eight times and hit another seven as a porous offensive line was unable to keep Hasselbeck on his feet.

He left the game late in the fourth quarter and was replaced by backup Charlie Whitehurst, who got the first start of his five-year NFL career against New York.

The Seahawks' offense couldn't get anything going against the Giants -- their first three drives were three-and-outs -- and Whitehurst completed 12 of 23 passes for 113 yards with a touchdown, two interceptions and a 44.3 passer rating. The stagnant Seahawks put up just 162 yards of offense in a 41-7 loss.

"It's hard when you're not out there, and it's even harder when your team doesn't play well," Hasselbeck said. "It's not easy to sit on the sidelines and watch, but it's bearable if your team is playing well, and you're winning, and things are going well. That's, like, the exact opposite of what happened.

"It was frustrating, and in some ways I think you feel guilty a little bit that you're not out there with your guys."

Hasselbeck was required to pass an array of tests before he was cleared to return to the field. He had to ride a bike Monday without feeling ill-effects. Tuesday was an on-field test with the strength and conditioning staff and trainers, and Wednesday was a walkthrough practice.

He also needed to pass mental acuity tests to show his function had fully returned.

"Do the months backward, count backward by sevens starting at 100, do the alphabet backward -- things like that. It's not the easiest thing to do," Hasselbeck said.

Once he was cleared, coach Pete Carroll wasted no time inserting him into the starting lineup.

"I think he's ready," Carroll said. "He needs to go through the week practicing and make it through just like everybody else does, but I'm anxious to get him back out there and get him back to take over."

Hasselbeck hopes to help steady an offense that has failed to find consistency over the first half of the season. Multiple changes on the offensive line coupled with new additions at running back and wide receiver have slowed the progress.

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"I think we're just trying to find our identity still a little bit," Hasselbeck said. "Some games we're pretty good, some games we're not good at all, some games we're really, really good on third-down, other games we're terrible on third-down, and so we just got to keep plugging away."

The Seahawks face the Cardinals hoping to end their two-game skid. Seattle beat the Cardinals, 24-10, just three weeks ago.

Notes: DT Colin Cole (ankle), FB Michael Robinson (hamstring), WR Golden Tate (ankle), LB Lofa Tatupu (knee), DE Raheem Brock (back) and S Earl Thomas (not injury related) did not practice Thursday. ... RB Marshawn Lynch (thigh), T Russell Okung (ankle), G Mike Gibson (ankle) and WR Mike Williams (finger) were limited.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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