RENTON, Wash. (AP) - Matt Hasselbeck wasn't standing around quite as much during Seahawks practices this week. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback was working with the first team, like he's been since 2001.
At least it seemed that way. Who knows, in this training camp run by preservation- and competition-minded new coach Pete Carroll?
"The schedule might be different too, so it might just feel like I'm getting more reps," Hasselbeck deadpanned. "Or it's just hotter."
Yes, the heat is on.
Carroll knows Hasselbeck turns 35 next month. He knows the trigger man Mike Holmgren brought from Green Bay in 2001 to lead a Seattle football renaissance has had two of his worst seasons while enduring injuries to his back, ribs and shoulder the last two years. The Seahawks have slumped to 9-23 in that time.
Carroll also knows Hasselbeck is in the last year of his contract.
Plus, he and his new staff like what they see in heir Charlie Whitehurst, the former Chargers third-stringer who threw for two touchdowns in last weekend's preseason opener against Tennessee. Whitehurst has been getting the first-team snaps that Hasselbeck has been watching.
Yet Carroll has repeatedly said "Matt is our starting quarterback" and has praised how great his offseason has been.
Hasselbeck figures to play more Saturday night in Seattle's home exhibition against Green Bay. Perhaps the entire first half.
"Yeah, I would expect to," he said this week. "But the coaches haven't really said anything.
"There are probably lessons to be learned there. You can come out and mentally not be ready to really perform. It's all part of the preseason. I think I fall into that category."
Speaking of Green Bay, Hasselbeck says this mini summer hiatus reminds him of his days backing up Brett Favre from 1998-2000 as Holmgren's sixth-round draft pick with the Packers.
"I wasn't getting a lot of reps and was I just sort of watching practice. You almost get spoiled getting all the reps and it's not much fun to go back to that," he said. "But that's just part of it and it's part of how we're doing things. It's probably the smarter way to go."
Less practice did not translate into more effectiveness against the Titans last week. In three series, Hasselbeck was 4 for 10 and was sacked once. Tennessee knocked down four of his passes, two of them at the line.
Aaron Rodgers had no such opening issues in Green Bay. He completed his first nine passes and finished 12 for 13 for 159 yards with no interceptions, no sacks and a touchdown for a passer rating of 143.3 against Cleveland, before giving way to backup Matt Flynn after roughly 20 snaps.
"I felt pretty good," Rodgers said, sounding opposite of Hasselbeck.
Rodgers looked particularly sharp against the blitz, and his next practice test is against a Seahawks defense searching for a pass rush. So Rodgers' summer carry-over from his first Pro Bowl appearance last season may continue.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy says Rodgers and fellow starters are likely to again play into the second quarter in Seattle.
Hasselbeck's tepid start isn't all because of inactivity. New offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates cited the key to Seattle's season - the protection provided by a changing offensive line, anchored by rookie left tackle Russell Okung instead of retired All-Pro Walter Jones - as a factor.
This is also Hasselbeck's third offensive scheme in three seasons. Bates and line coach Alex Gibbs are installing a more pure zone-blocking scheme upon which the entire offense is based.
"There are some things that he'd want to take back, but it's the first time in this offense," Bates said of Hasselbeck. "We have to protect him and help him out a little bit, but we're going to keep growing.
"We'll go as far as they take us," Bates said of the blockers. "It's up to those guys to take us to victories."
Hasselbeck sounded humbled.
"I got graded pretty tough, like I would expect to. And I should have finished the day probably six of 10, or seven of 10, could have been cleaner, a little bit more crisp," Seattle's Super Bowl quarterback in 2006 said. "I probably lacked a lot of enthusiasm and energy when I was out there, which that's something that I have to bring to the table."