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Originally published September 24, 2010 at 8:38 PM | Page modified September 24, 2010 at 10:35 PM

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For Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, turnovers is the most important statistic

Two statistics are vital to Pete Carroll. The final score and turnover ratio. To hear the Seahawks coach talk football, the latter stat has a direct correlation to the former and explains why Seattle enters Sunday's game against San Diego with a 1-1 record.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

XXXX @ XXXX, time

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RENTON — Two statistics are vital to Pete Carroll.

The final score and turnover ratio.

To hear the Seahawks coach talk football, the latter stat has a direct correlation to the former and explains why Seattle enters Sunday's game against San Diego with a 1-1 record and is looking to rebound from its first defeat.

"It's been our main theme and our approach in our football for as long as I can remember," Carroll said. "It's about taking care of the football and getting it. It's not just one side, it's not just giving up (the ball), it's getting the ball, too.

"The defense can balance out a mistake or two by an offense by taking the football away. So it's the No. 1 emphasis in the program. That's why it hurts so much to see it be a big factor in the game last week."

The Seahawks committed four turnovers — three Matt Hasselbeck interceptions and a Walter Thurmond fumble — in a 31-14 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Seattle's defense failed to force a turnover after collecting two interceptions in the regular-season opening win against San Francisco.

So it goes without saying, the emphasis this week has been re-emphasizing the importance of avoiding and creating turnovers.

"Pete (Carroll) said it very plainly in our first meeting on Monday this week," Hasselbeck said. "He just said, 'There's really nothing else to say. If you can't grasp that concept then you're not going to get what we're all about.' And we're all about turnover ratio."

Especially this week against the Chargers (1-1), who finished the 2009 season with a plus-8 turnover ratio and enter Sunday's game with a plus-2 ratio. San Diego is tied for the NFL lead with four interceptions.

"Last week we didn't do a great job of (taking care of the football), but we know that these guys are a good football team," Hasselbeck said. "It's something that we have to be aware of, they're very opportunistic in the secondary."

Rivers talks

about Whitehurst

For three years, the voice in Philip Rivers' helmet belonged to Charlie Whitehurst.

"He was a big help for me," said the Chargers' Pro Bowl quarterback. "He called the plays in to me through the headset. ... He and I had to be on the same page and communicate very well, and we did."

Drafted by San Diego in the second round of the 2006 draft, Whitehurst was the No. 3 quarterback behind Rivers and Billy Volek.

Whitehurst and Rivers share similar backgrounds — Whitehurst grew up in Alpharetta, Ga., and Rivers is an Athens, Ala., native — which allowed them to foster a friendship. Their relationship pushed Whitehurst into the role of relaying plays from coach Norv Turner to Rivers.

"Charlie and I talk a lot alike being from the South and think a lot alike, so I think it was just kind of a perfect fit," Rivers said. "Charlie was able to verbalize and take what Norv had given him."

Said Whitehurst: "It made (me) feel like I was a part of it. Being the third guy sometimes you're just kind of there, but I felt like I had a job and I was kind of valuable.

"I don't know if anybody else felt that way, but I did. It was fun for me to do that. I learned a lot from Norv because I got to stand next to him and listen to everything that he said."

Turner likened Whitehurst to Trent Green, a former No. 3 QB under Turner in Washington. After years as a backup, Green got a chance to start in Kansas City and spent 5 ½ seasons as the Chiefs' starter.

"Charlie is as physically gifted as (Green) and what happens with those guys is they need a chance to play and they need an opportunity to go play," Turner said.

Notes

• For the first time this season, Seattle's injury-plagued offensive line will start consecutive games without any changes. Right offensive tackle Sean Locklear was limited this week, but appears as if he'll play alongside tackle Tyler Polumbus, center Chris Spencer and guards Ben Hamilton and Stacy Andrews.

• OL Chester Pitts (knee) is listed as probable, but he's still a week away from practicing without limitations. Rookie OL Russell Okung (ankle) is expected to return next week.

• LB Will Herring returned to practice after missing two days on an excused absence.

• San Diego RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) did not practice Friday and is doubtful.

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com

Sunday

San Diego @ Seahawks, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 7

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