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Frye lands in hot spot

Circumstances have vaulted Charlie Frye from third-string QB to probable starter.  (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Circumstances have vaulted Charlie Frye from third-string QB to probable starter. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

Injuries place Seahawks’ 3rd-stringer in starting role

SEATTLE – Charlie Frye’s last regular-season start was the kind of afternoon you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

The Cleveland Browns’ hometown product – Frye grew up 75 miles from the Ohio city – didn’t even make it until halftime after throwing an interception and getting sacked five times in the 2007 opener. He got benched at halftime and traded to Seattle two days later.

Thirteen months later, Frye finally has a chance to atone for that performance.

An injury to starter Matt Hasselbeck’s right knee, and a strained calf muscle that has limited backup Seneca Wallace for almost a month, have opened the door for Frye to make his first regular-season start as a member of the Seattle Seahawks today.

“I’ve taken every (practice) rep this week, so I’m going to be ready to play,” Frye said after Friday’s practice.

As of late Friday, Hasselbeck’s right knee seemed too hurt for the coaches to risk playing him. Coach Mike Holmgren all but announced that Frye would start today’s game, and now the 27-year-old quarterback could be in position to make up for his last start.

“My last start, I played a quarter,” he said. “So I don’t look at that as a start. That was a whole different situation. This is a new beginning.”

Frye’s last start was so disappointing that it led to him moving out of state for the first time in his life. He was the first quarterback since the 1970 merger to be traded after a Week 1 start.

Rather than dwell on the situation, the Akron University product tried to keep his eyes on the future. The Seahawks were offering no better than a chance at the No. 3 quarterback position, which Frye tackled with open arms.

He spent almost the entire 2007 season watching practices while Hasselbeck ran the offense and Wallace led the scout team.

Frye’s first big chance came in August, when the Seahawks decided to give him a long preseason look while trying to figure out if he had come far enough along for the team to free up Wallace to play some wide receiver. Frye responded with enough flashes that the coaches felt all right with the situation.

But never could the Seahawks have expected Frye to start a regular-season game.

“It’s a big adjustment, particularly with a quarterback you rely on a lot,” Holmgren said of the possibility of not having Hasselbeck for today’s game. “But the season is full of adjustments. We had to do it at receiver, and we still have to do it at receiver. We’ve done it on the offensive line. And now we do it at quarterback.

“It can be difficult, but it’s a great opportunity for the young guy who’s playing.”

Holmgren added that Frye’s extensive preseason experience – he started three of the games – could go a long way today.

“That has to help,” he said. “That absolutely has to help. And he’s had a good week at practice. He’s a good guy, a very diligent guy who studies. He will be well-prepared to play in the game if he has to.”

“He got some time and got to play,” offensive lineman Sean Locklear said. “One preseason game, he played the entire game. So he feels a lot more comfortable now.”

Frye, who had a 72.4 passer rating in the preseason, isn’t necessarily trying to be the next Hasselbeck. Nor do the Seahawks expect him to be.

“He’s really matured in this offense,” teammate Bobby Engram said. “The preseason has really given him the confidence that he can go in there and be successful in this offense.”

Thirteen months later, Frye could find himself back in a familiar role. He just hopes that this time will work out a lot differently.

“I can lean on that,” he said of his 18 starts as Cleveland’s quarterback. “It’s a different offense. My experience here is all the work I did in the preseason and watching Matt play. You can see a different side of the game on the sidelines.”