RENTON – The Seattle Seahawks: Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of treatments.
Percy Harvin is in New York preparing for surgery by hip specialist Dr. Bryan Kelly, who happens to be a team doctor for the New York Giants. (Couldn’t they find a hip guy who didn’t work for an NFC opponent?)
Sidney Rice reportedly is in Switzerland getting a blood-injection treatment that isn’t yet FDA approved in the United States. (Not sure what will happen when a linebacker wants to go to Haiti to see the lady who fixes anterior cruciate ligaments with herbs and animal sacrifices).
And tight end Zach Miller is still nursing a foot injury in a somewhat old-fashioned and mundane manner, on the sideline at the team headquarters.
Those three, the Seahawks’ big-ticket acquisitions in recent seasons, occupy roughly $26 million of the team’s salary cap this season. And how much they will contribute depends on recovery times.
Harvin might be back late in the season; Rice could be good to go as soon as he clears customs, and Miller is mostly in wait-and-see mode since there’s no hurry to rush him back in the exhibition season.
Funny thing happened Wednesday in their collective absence, though: The offense had perhaps its best day against a defense that has dominated almost every team session since the start of training camp.
Receiver Golden Tate had his usual array of acrobatic catches, but rookie Chris Harper also had two against perhaps the best secondary in the NFL. One was a leaping grab between Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, and the other was up the sideline against Brandon Browner.
And one time, on a broken play, quarterback Russell Wilson scrambled a bit and smoked a ballistic marvel about 70 yards to tight end Sean McGrath. This was not one of those lofted rainbows, this thing had a low trajectory and left a vapor trail.
Granted, Harvin’s hip has to disappoint fans eager to see one of the game’s best breakaway threats. The guy is a playmaking game-changer. So, too, is this an obvious concern to a team that traded three picks including a first-rounder, and guaranteed Harvin $25 million.
On the day Harvin was brought in, coach Pete Carroll touted his rare talents, but stressed that “we’re not going to change a lot of stuff, we’re just going to add him in to complement the guys we already have.”
So, what’s going on in the minds of those still suiting up every day, the guys in the locker room? It was time to consult one of the Seahawks’ most reliable voices of reason and veteran leadership – fullback Michael Robinson.
“The luxury we have is that we weren’t getting Percy to be the puzzle, just to be a piece of the puzzle,” Robinson said. “We came close to our goal last year without Percy. It’s all about competition. When guys see opportunity, they want to capitalize, and I think we have more than enough playmakers around here.”
The Seahawks are a team that wins with defense and a strong rushing attack. They threw the ball fewer times than anybody in the NFL. Robinson doubted that was going to change much no matter who they brought in as receiver.
“Our identity is still there,” he said, adding that not only is the offensive line better this season, but “our quarterback is better at getting it to the right places now. Some people forget he was a rookie last year.”
We fairly questioned back in March how Harvin would fit in the locker room, which can be a place of delicate chemistry. His reputation as a high-maintenance guy whose attitude needed massaging was not something that scared off the Seahawks, who have been successful in getting newcomers with sundry baggage to buy in to Carroll’s theme of unity through competition and shared aspiration.
In the wake of his injury, Carroll and general manager John Schneider have both said they want what’s best for Harvin’s health. But will Harvin be satisfied with the Seahawks’ reaction to his surgery, which was decided upon after he sought a second opinion?
And will this eventually require an attitude rehabilitation as well as the physical rehab?
In Robinson’s mind, the team can’t really miss somebody it’s never had.
“Every year I’ve been in the league, there’s been something that’s happened; you’re always going to have challenges,” Robinson said. “It’s all about who can put those distractions aside, capitalize on the opportunities and go to work every day, focusing on one play at a time, one day at a time, one game at a time.”
And one surgery at a time.