Now that Percy Harvin is back, what’s next?

Posted Nov 20, 2013

Percy Harvin went from not being able to play, to when should he play, to is he ready to play, to turning in two huge plays for his new team against his former team in the Seahawks’ 41-20 victory over the Vikings.

During a recent locker-room conversation with Heath Farwell it was suggested that the Seahawks’ special-teams captain and co-leader in coverage tackles has been the most consistent of the former Minnesota Vikings on the club.

Wide receiver Sidney Rice had just gone on injured reserve. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is back after a season in exile with the Buffalo Bills – but as the backup to Russell Wilson, not the starter as he was in 2011.

As Farwell smiled, Percy Harvin walked by. Right on cue.

“That’s about to change as soon as Percy comes back,” Farwell said, the smile being replaced by a laugh.

Harvin, who was acquired in a March trade with the Vikings, was still on the physically unable to perform list after having hip surgery Aug. 1.

That changed in Sunday’s game against the Vikings, when Harvin got two touches in his Seahawks debut. One was a highlight-reel reception where he tipped a pass from Wilson with his right hand and controlled it as he was falling to the turf at CenturyLink Field. The other was a 58-yard kickoff return, where everyone finally got a glimpse of the explosive speed that is such a part of everything Harvin brings to the football buffet.

But who saw this coming? How could a player – even one as good as Harvin – make that kind of impact in a game when he last played in a game last Nov. 4 against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.

One school of thought had coach Pete Carroll sitting Harvin for the game, allowing him two more weeks to rehab before the post-bye run that starts with a “Monday Night Football” matchup against the New Orleans Saints at CenturyLink Field on Dec. 2 and continues with road games against the 49ers in San Francisco (Dec. 8) and the New York Giants in the Meadowlands (Dec. 15).

Anyone who bought into that already has been fitted for a dunce cap.

There also was the thought that Harvin had been limited in two practices prior to last week, and then was limited again Wednesday, so how could he possibly be game ready.

The think-again moment with that theory came early in Thursday’s practice, when Harvin took a short pass in the flat from Wilson and morphed into a blur as he exploded up the sideline in the indoor practice facility at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

Believe it or not, the guy wasn’t just ready, Harvin was prepared.

When did his teammates have an idea that Harvin was not only back, but back that far back?

“I saw him all week in practice,” wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. “And it jumped off the tape how fast he was. It was just unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything that fast on tape before. It was ridiculous.”

That’s why when Harvin got his hands on the kickoff return, everyone on the Seahawks’ sideline stood up.

“We saw it all week in practice, and you know how electrifying he is when he touches the ball,” Baldwin said. “So that’s why you saw all of us stand up. We knew something was up. He’s just a different type of player.”

Different, in a good way. “If he gets the ball in his hands, it’s like another Beast Mode,” Baldwin said, with the obvious reference being leading rusher Marshawn Lynch. “It’s a different type of Beast Mode because he’s so fast. Then he runs like a running back, just bouncing off tackles. I don’t know. That guy’s amazing.”

Wilson seconded that notion.

“How big a part of the offense can Percy be?” he said, repeating the question. “The thing about him, he draws attention. And it’s hard to stop him because he’s so fast, he’s so electric. He loves the game. He’s so physical. He’s the type of guy that’s so fast that he makes guys miss, but he also wants to be physical with you. So it’s tough for defensive players to figure out how to cover him.

“So I think adding him to the different guys that we have – to the quick guys that we have, to the deep-ball guys that we have, to the playmakers and possession guys – he can do it all. That’s what makes him one of the best players in the National Football League.”      

And Harvin’s impact should only become more forceful as the Seahawks move into their final five games with 10 victories and a lead in the NFC West that is currently 3½ games.

“He’s got an elite speed,” Baldwin said. “So anytime you look at him in the slot, or maybe outside, the safety has to cheat to his side in case he beats the guy off the line of scrimmage. Because if the safety doesn’t get there, there’s nobody in this league that catch up with Percy.”