In their biggest game of the season, the Seahawks will have one of the NFL’s best big-play players available as Percy Harvin practiced all week and will participate in Saturday’s divisional playoff game against the Saints.
The opportunity that Percy Harvin thought might not come this season, and nearly didn’t, is almost here.
For the second time since being acquired in a March trade with the Minnesota Vikings and then having hip surgery on Aug. 1, the game-breaking receiver/returner/runner will play for the Seahawks. And on the biggest stage, as Harvin will return for Saturday’s divisional playoff game at CenturyLink Field when the No. 1-seed Seahawks host the No. 6-seed New Orleans Saints.
“Percy’s playing. He’s playing in the game,” coach Pete Carroll said after Thursday’s practice. “We’re excited about him going, and excited for him. It’s been a long, long haul for a guy that’s such a great competitor, that it means so much to. For him to have the opportunity to join us now is really exciting I know for him and us, too. Love to have him.”
In the only other game Harvin played this season, he had a 58-yard kickoff return and tipped a pass with his right hand that he then controlled while falling to the turf for a 17-yard reception in the Seahawks’ Week 11 win over the Vikings at CenturyLink Field.
But after those giant steps forward, Harvin was forced to retreat because of stiffness and swelling in his surgically repaired hip.
“I had my days, they kind of went up and down,” Harvin said. “Especially from week to week, being out there a couple days, going to sleep not knowing if I was going to wake up in the morning with it swelled up. So it got really frustrating.
“I know for the organization it was frustrating, too, knowing that I could practice one day and maybe not practice the next day. So it was frustrating for a lot of people. My hat’s off to this organization just for staying patient with me. So I’m just ready to make it all pay off.”
Step by arduous step, Harvin worked his way back. He swam. He boxed. He rode an exercise bike. He rehabbed. And did it well enough to sidestep being placed on injured reserve.
“Coach came to me it was last Monday with the whole IR thing,” Harvin said. “I just looked at him. I said, ‘Coach, I’m ready to play ball.’ So we talked to doctors, just kept rehabbing, I took the practice field and it felt pretty good.”
During all the uncertainty that followed the surgery and then the setback after the game against his former team, Harvin’s new teammates were there to help stoke his motivation and calm his qualms.
“Richard Sherman, he came to me every single day just letting me know the team would keep it up,” Harvin said of the Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback. “He always would say, ‘We got it, we’re going to need you to finish.’ He kept saying that and kept saying that to me.”
Harvin received similar support from other teammates, as well as his coaches.
“They came up to me and just kept encouraging me,” Harvin said. “There came a time where I thought about maybe just kind of shutting it down, but the guys just kept giving it to me – kept giving me that positive energy I needed.”
And now that Harvin is back, his teammates are even happier for him than they are excited about what he might be able to add to an already impressive mix.
“Obviously Percy Harvin is a tremendous football,” quarterback Russell Wilson said. “If we can get him out there that’s a great thing for us. He’s an explosive football player, that’s for sure. He looks unbelievable so far. If that’s the case, we’ll be really happy for him, too. Knowing Percy and becoming really good friends with Percy over the past several months, he’s a guy that loves to play the game of football. And that’s what you want on your football team.”
Sherman plays on the same team with Harvin now, but has played against him, too. So he can appreciate what Harvin’s versatility does to a defense.
What’s it like to cover Harvin? “It’s fast,” Sherman said with a laugh. “He’s an explosive player. He’s a very quick-twitch guy. And you have to be on everything and you can’t give up on the play. He may separate from you. He may get a step. But you’ve got to keep fighting and give yourself a chance to attack him or get the ball out at the point of attack.
“He’s as challenging (as anybody I’ve faced) because he creates so many different challenges. He’s quick. He’s fast. He’s dynamic. If he gets a step on you, there’s no coming back from that.”
And the fact that Harvin is coming back for the Seahawks’ playoff opener is not lost on him.