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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.



July 30, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Pete Carroll names Tarvaris Jackson Week 1 starter

Posted by Danny O'Neil

RENTON -- Tarvaris Jackson joins the Seahawks as the starting quarterback, coach Pete Carroll announced after the first of the team's two practices Saturday.

"To make it the most competitive for our team, Tarvaris needs to be our starter right now," Carroll said. "He comes in as our starter."

This constituted a surprise. Most had expected a competition between Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst for the starting position.

Carroll said that the lockout has created special circumstances, though, and Jackson's familiarity with Darrell Bevell means that he starts out with a better footing in the offense. Bevell, who was hired as Seattle's offensive coordinator this year, coached Jackson in Minnesota the previous five season.

So even though Jackson just signed with Seattle on Friday, and is not expected to practice until next Thursday, he will be the starting quarterback when the season begins.

"He's going to own that position until Charlie, and the next couple of fellows that are playing at the spot, get a chance to catch up," Carroll said. "Then the competition will begin from their end."

So what does this say about Whitehurst then? After all, this was a quarterback the Seahawks acquired by giving up 20 spots of draft position in the second round of the 2010 draft and a third-round pick in 2011 just for the privilege of paying him a two-year contract.

He started two games last season, and Carroll pointed out Seattle's Week 17 victory over St. Louis as proof of Whitehurst's viability down the line. And now Whitehurst won't even be competing for the starting job against a player who was signed to a similar two-year contract and can't practice until next week. What has changed in the way Seattle sees Whitehurst's potential future?

"In my mind, nothing has changed," Carroll said. "This is just a competitive decision because of the time frame that we're dealing with. It's strictly that."

Update, 6:27 p.m.: After the evening practice, Whitehurst was asked for his reaction to Carroll's decision.

"I didn't know what to expect coming into camp with the quarterback situation," Whitehurst said. "I just wanted a chance, and I'm here, I've got a chance. It's not necessarily how I wanted to start out, but I respect the fact that he was direct with me and told me."

This is not a vote of confidence -- or lack thereof -- in Whitehurst's ability to start at some point this season. It's a statement that the team's best chance of winning Week 1 in San Francisco will come if Jackson is named the starter from the very beginning.

"We've got to get ready in a very condensed time frame," Carroll said. "So it doesn't allow it to be as purely open. I can't be that patient right now. The situation did not allow that."

So how did Whitehurst take the news? After all, he said Wednesday after the first on-field workout that he was approaching this season with the intention of establishing himself as the starter.

"He was awesome," Carroll said. "I've been so straight with Charlie from the moment we ever started talking, he knows what we're talking about. He gets it. He understands the competitive approach now is to take advantage of this opportunity while he gets all the reps, while he gets all of the focus time, to accelerate his process in learning all of his stuff."

Carroll held open the possibility of an open competition at some point later this season, but didn't put a timetable on it.

"Charlie, as soon as he can get caught up, I can say, 'OK, Charlie the competition is dead-on, let's go,' " Carroll said. " 'Let's see where you sit with this.' "

But right now, Whitehurst is looking up on the depth at a new teammate who won't be able to practice until next week.

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