Percy Harvin healed, ready to soar against Saints

Finally healed from nagging hip injury, explosive returner/receiver set to be unleashed

Staff writerJanuary 10, 2014 

RENTON — There was agreement on two key points Thursday.

Dynamic wide receiver Percy Harvin will play Saturday in the Seahawks’ divisional-round playoff game against the New Orleans Saints.

And, getting him to this point has been frustrating.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Harvin will be unleashed Saturday for the first time since playing 19 offensive and two special-teams snaps Nov. 17 against his former team, the Minnesota Vikings. Carroll and Harvin said there will be no limitations this time.

“He’s going,” Carroll said. “I told you if he’s going to go, he’s going. So he’s playing.”

That means Harvin is expected to be standing in the end zone Saturday at the first opportunity the Seahawks have to return a kickoff.

He’ll line up in the slot, outside and possibly in the backfield. New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is

aware of those deviations.

“Hell, they could put him at center probably and hike the ball,” Ryan said. “He’s all over the place. We know who he is, and we’ll have him identified, and we’ll do a great job.”

During his extensive rehabilitation from Aug. 1 hip surgery, there were times when Harvin was unsure if he could return to the field this season.

Even during the game against the Vikings, Harvin said he knew something was not right. Afterward, he had soreness and stiffness in the hip. He also had excess fluid.

“It kind of went up and down, especially from week to week,” Harvin said. “Especially after being out there a couple days, going to sleep not knowing if I was going to wake up the next morning with it swelled up. It got very frustrating.

“I know for the organization, it was frustrating, too, knowing that I could practice one day and maybe not practice the next day. It was frustrating for a lot of people. My hat’s off to this organization for staying patient with me. I’m just ready to make it all pay off.”

Harvin was approached by Carroll on Dec. 30 and was told it was decision time. Either Harvin had to prove he was ready to play or he was going on injured reserve.

Harvin caught some passes from quarterback Russell Wilson, which, in addition to oral affirmation, was enough to persuade Carroll to give Harvin a shot at practicing.

Harvin was limited Jan. 2. He practiced more last Friday. Wednesday and Thursday this week, he was a full participant in practice.

“I’m feeling great,” Harvin said. “Had a good two weeks. We came back this week, had no setbacks, it felt good. I was able to finally do all of my cutting, getting out of my breaks, things like that. So it’s been great.”

It’s also a red alert for New Orleans.

The Seahawks finally have their most explosive playmaker in place with a healthy offensive line. Harvin’s arrival for the playoffs comes when the Seahawks’ offense could use such a jolt. Seattle averaged 13.5 points a game in two losses the last four weeks of the season.

“He’s a dynamic player,” New Orleans coach Sean Payton said.

Harvin’s on-field influence was seen immediately against Minnesota. Even when the ball isn’t being thrown to Harvin, his presence forces defenses to align for the possibility.

Against the Vikings, Harvin had one catch for 17 yards. The three receivers around him averaged 31.5, 27 and 26 yards per catch, respectively, that day.

Harvin returned one kick for 58 yards. He was stopped by the kicker as much as indecision. Afterward, Harvin said he was unsure whether to juke or run over the kicker, which left him in between and vulnerable for the touchdown-saving tackle by Minnesota cornerback Marcus Sherels.

“He’s been able to create stuff that’s unique, and that has given him his reputation that is legit,” Carroll said. “Returns, particularly, he’s as good as you can get as a kickoff returner.”

Once again, the Seahawks’ offseason prized toy is out of the box. Just in time for the playoffs.

“I’m just looking to jump on the bus and enjoy the ride,” Harvin said.

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todd.dybas@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @Todd_Dybas

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