RENTON — About six hours after saying wide receiver Percy Harvin had not made it “over the hump,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Harvin would be at practice Thursday.
Monday was another intriguing episode of “As Percy Turns,” with Carroll not contradicting reports that Harvin was heading to injured reserve in the morning, then saying Harvin is aiming to play in the first playoff game by the afternoon.
The Seahawks will practice Thursday and Friday during their bye week as they wait to learn their opponent for a Jan. 11 divisional playoff game at CenturyLink Field. That Harvin is expected to participate in at least one of those practices is a surprise. That the intent is for him to play for the first time since Nov. 17, his only appearance in a Seahawks uniform since an offseason trade, is shocking.
“He’s come to the point where
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we can go to that and we’ll keep our fingers crossed for him,” Carroll said. “He wants to contribute and be a part of this team, and he’s going to do everything he can to do that. So we’ll see what happens.”
Harvin had hip surgery Aug. 1. He missed the first 10 games of the season before playing a limited role Nov. 17 against his former team, the Minnesota Vikings. Harvin made one catch and returned a kickoff 58 yards.
Since that game, Harvin has not practiced. Conjectures about him being placed on injured reserve and ending his season were frequent. Last week, Carroll indicated the Seahawks reached a point that they had to decide soon whether Harvin should go on injured reserve.
Harvin has not spoken to the media since after the Vikings game. Carroll’s explanations of Harvin’s rehabilitation situation were vague. After the Seahawks traded three draft picks, including a first-rounder, for Harvin, expectations for his contribution were extreme.
The murky nature of explanations about his rehabilitation process combined with those expectations prompted multiple conspiracy theories related to Harvin’s contract, desire and effort. There were also suggestions that Carroll and the Seahawks were stashing Harvin away for the playoffs.
Carroll says none of that is true.
“We never said that,” Carroll said. “There was a time where I thought that maybe he wouldn’t have a chance to take the turn that he needed within the last month or so because we knew it was getting down. He needs a couple of weeks, and now we have a couple of weeks, so we’ll see what happens.
“There is no game plan here; there is nothing behind this at all. We just have a young guy trying to get back on the team and seeing if he could help his team win, and we’ll see if it happens. There is no strategy to this or anything like that. We’re just pulling for him, and if he can contribute, that’ll be great. When he jumped out against Minnesota it looked like he could do something when he gets out there. It might be pretty exciting if he does make it back.”
Harvin’s presence would be a jolt for an offense that put up a season-low 10 points two weeks ago at home against Arizona. Two weeks prior, Seattle was held to 17 points in a loss at San Francisco.
The 49ers finished the regular season fifth in total defense. The Cardinals were sixth. All of the top-five teams in total defense made the playoffs.
Harvin is light-speed fast and can be used in a variety of ways. In Minnesota, where current Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell coached Harvin for two seasons, Harvin came out of the backfield, lined up wide and in the slot, ran reverses and was used in multiple screens.
He’s a dynamic presence on the field.
But he couldn’t make it back after playing 19 offensive and two special teams snaps against the Vikings. The reason went beyond simple soreness in his surgically-repaired hip.
“It’s way more complicated than just that,” Carroll said. “He had major surgery in his hip. There are a lot of people who walk around for years (trying to get) back from that, and he’s trying to do it in months. He’s not just trying to get back to being a normal human being walking down the street. He goes a million miles an hour and throws his body everywhere, and he has to be perfectly fit to do that.
“He’s learned as he’s gone along to try and figure this thing out, and it’s taken us some time because it’s a very delicate situation. I couldn’t be more pleased with how he’s gone about it to try and figure it out to work his way through it and deal with the setbacks and all of that.”
The process will start again Thursday. Carroll wasn’t promising anything beyond that.
So, stay tuned for the next installment.
Carroll said defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (groin), wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (ankle), cornerback Richard Sherman (hip) and cornerback Jeremy Lane (shoulder) should all be back at practice Thursday. Tight end Luke Willson (high ankle sprain) was questionable to return to practice. Linebacker K.J. Wright (foot), who has been out since Dec. 8 because of a broken bone, could return to practice next week. Carroll was asked if anything has changed with his contract situation. He has one year remaining on a deal that pays him $7 million per season. “I’m in great shape,” Carroll said.