JACKSONVILLE – In the Colts most important game of the 2015 season, Charlie Whitehurst could be the starting quarterback.
That thought became a real possibility on Sunday after Matt Hasselbeck exited the 51-16 loss due to a ribs injury.
With a return date for Andrew Luck still unknown (Jim Irsay has mentioned Houston next week or Miami the week after as the most likely options), Whitehurst could be under center in Week 15 against Houston.
Hasselbeck, who came into Sunday dealing with a mild rib separation, left the Jaguars game for good early in the fourth quarter.
On a fourth-quarter scramble, Hasselbeck was sent into the Jaguars bench by linebacker Telvin Smith.
The quarterback stayed down on the sideline for a few minutes, before eventually walking back to the visiting bench holding his left arm.
Hasselbeck did not return to the game due to a ribs injury. The 40-year-old-quarterback also left Sunday's game for two plays in the third quarter after his head snapped back on the ground following a hit.
"(Hasselbeck) took a couple good shots there," Chuck Pagano said after the 51-16 loss.
"Still basically the ribs that he's dealing with. We'll know more (Monday)."
Hasselbeck was receiving treatment after Sunday's loss and did not meet with the media.
Photos from the week 14 game in Jacksonville.
If Hasselbeck can't go next week against Houston, that complicates things at the quarterback position with Luck's status also murky.
Luck is back throwing but has yet to return to practice. He missed his sixth game of the season on Sunday.
"As soon as the doctors tell us (Luck's) healthy and 100 percent, you guys will know exactly what I know," Pagano said of Luck after Sunday's loss.
On Sunday, Whitehurst played the final three series, finishing the game 2-of-8 for eight yards and an interception.
No matter the quarterback when the Colts play a virtual must-win game against Houston next week, the production from the unit has to improve.
"You go in there and you try to execute and move the ball," Whitehurst said of his relief action against Jacksonville. "We did that a little bit but we've got to do it better.
"Offensively, we've got to play if we want to win games."