RENTON — For a day, he was back.
Wide receiver Percy Harvin was on the Seattle Seahawks’ practice field Thursday for the first time since mid-November.
Harvin played 19 snaps in Week 11 against his former team, the Minnesota Vikings. He hadn’t played or practiced since.
He had a 15-minute throwing session Monday with quarterback Russell Wilson that helped convince the Seahawks not to place Harvin on season-ending injured reserve. Instead, the speedy wide receiver was on the practice field Thursday with the intent of being available for Seattle’s divisional-round playoff game.
“To see Percy out there is exciting,” Wilson said. “We’ve been wanting him out there the whole year, obviously. If we can get Percy back, like I said earlier in the year, he’s one of the best players in the National Football League, and he has been for the past four or five years.
“You can see his effect. You can sense his ability. So just to have him out there … I’m happy for him, man. I really hope he can play in the playoffs. I hope he can go out there and get that feeling again of being a big-time football
player like he’s always been. So we’re excited about that, if that’s the case.”
That last part? The hedging? It has become necessary because of the season-long stop-and-start with Harvin since Aug. 1 hip surgery.
After acquiring Harvin in a blockbuster offseason trade for three draft picks, including a first-rounder, the Seahawks have received little in return. He has caught one pass and returned one kickoff.
Still, mentioning him makes salivary glands pump. The Seahawks tied for the NFL’s best record (13-3) without Harvin. Much like when the trade occurred, adding Harvin to the mix for the playoffs is seen as a luxury, not a necessity for the Seahawks.
“He’s ready to go, I think, but we’ll see,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to listen to the trainers and coach (Pete) Carroll and how he’s feeling, and that just adds another element to our game. He’s explosive as can be. He has a great knack for the game. He’s very physical, loves to just make big-time plays. So if we can get him out there, that’ll be great if that’s the case.”
When the Seahawks faced Harvin and the Vikings last season, they had a specific and intricate plan to handle him. An athlete who can come out of the backfield, slot or wide receiver spots, Harvin would pose a conundrum for playoff opponents, particularly because there is limited film of him this season.
“He’s going to pose a lot of problems,” Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond said. “He’s going to have the freshest legs out of anybody in the playoffs … besides myself. He’s quick as hell. He’s fast, has quick acceleration. You can’t play zone against him. He’s going to find a zone and crease you.”
Thurmond suggested the main way to limit Harvin has little to do with attacking him directly.
“I think the key to slowing him down is the pass rush,” Thurmond said. “It doesn’t even involve him. Getting Russell off the spot seems the best way to defend him.”
That’s going to be for an opponent to figure out should Harvin make it all the way to Jan. 11.
As of now, he has just one practice behind him and lots of hope around him.