Seattle Seahawks

Dave Boling: Seahawks expect many happy returns from Harvin

If the Seahawks win the coin flip Saturday before the NFC divisional playoff game against New Orleans, expect them to receive the opening kickoff rather than defer.

Then watch Percy Harvin retreat to the goal line as the lone returner.

Given his flair for the dramatic, fueled by a season’s worth of pent-up competitive frustration, prepare for Harvin to jet 100 yards or more for a touchdown.

In little more than 10 seconds, Harvin could very well put the Seahawks on the path toward the NFC championship game.

A healthy Harvin is that dangerous. And he’s that ripe for a huge day.

If you’re not suspicious of his durability and availability, you haven’t been paying attention. His surgically repaired hip has been a medical mystery much of the season, with vague status reports trickling out since training camp.

So we’re mostly left to make some deductions from what little we have.

Given the number of times coach Pete Carroll has described Harvin as a guy who needs to be at or near full speed to be effective, we may assume that

he’s close to 100 percent or he wouldn’t even be practicing. And he definitely is practicing.

The second is an extremely elastic interpretation of Carroll’s statements on Harvin’s status this week.

“We’re just going to mix him in,” Carroll said. “ ... We’ll utilize him as it fits.”

I’m of the opinion that when Pete Carroll acts so casual about something — anything — he’s sandbagging. This guy enjoys Monday mornings. Obstacles are merely opportunities.

But here he is, on the verge of the season’s biggest game with the probability of adding one of the league’s most dangerous offensive threats, and he’s only expecting to “mix him in”?

Anything short of “jacked … pumped … amped” and Carroll is playing possum.

So, right … mix him in … maybe give the kid a play or two on occasion to see if he can prove himself, maybe get him a few quarters of action so he can earn his letter.

Do you think they might use him on kickoff returns? Well, is he any good at that?

Hmm, let’s see. Last season, he averaged 35.9 yards per return while with the Vikings. That’s the third highest in NFL history.

Do you think he might be effective on those bubble screens or hitch routes? Let’s see, last season he averaged 10.9 yards per reception … 8.9 were after the catch. Do the math.

Versatile? In four previous seasons, he has scored 29 touchdowns — 20 by pass, four by the rush and five by kickoff return.

Put yourself in the place of Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, trying to defend a team that beat you 34-7 five weeks ago — and now they’re adding one of the most dangerous players in the game.

What if they put Harvin wide on one side and Golden Tate on the other side, and send them both deep? Makes Ryan’s decisions tougher.

Tate was asked to offer a scouting report on Harvin.

“He’s fast as ble-e-e-e-p,” he said.

Exactly how fast is ble-e-e-e-p?

“When he sticks his foot in the ground and decides he wants to run, I don’t think there’s a single (defender) in this league who can flip his hips before he gets by you,” he said. “He’s definitely going to open it up for all of us.”

Quarterback Russell Wilson was working with Harvin and the other receivers way back in the spring, building a foundation of shared experience before the hip was an issue.

“He looks unbelievable so far,” Wilson said of Harvin in practice.

There’s more than that, Wilson said.

“He’s a guy who loves to play the game of football, and that’s what you love. He’s one of the best players in the National Football League, for sure, and he’s been itching to play,” he said.

All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, fearful of no receiver, opened his eyes wide when asked about covering Harvin.

“He creates so many different challenges; he’s quick, he’s fast, he’s dynamic,” Sherman said, before acknowledging the doomsday coverage scenario. “If he gets a step on you, there’s no coming back from that.”

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