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Percy Harvin playing up to the hype

Posted May 20, 2013

In his first practice with the Seahawks – even if it was only an OTA session – Percy Harvin displayed the explosive quickness and lightning speed that prompted the team to acquire him in a trade with the Vikings.

From the day he was acquired in a trade back in March, the primary question regarding Percy Harvin was just what he might be able to add to already potent Seahawks offense.

Monday, during the first of the team’s 10 OTA workouts, the receiver/runner/returner who spent the past four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings not only answered that, Harvin did it with a couple of exclamation-point statements.

On one play, Harvin put a series of blink-and-you’ll-miss-them moves on Byron Maxwell that left the third-year cornerback shaking his head. On another snap, Harvin simply blew past Jeron Johnson, prompting a what-was-that smile from the third-year strong safety.

In the first session of the offseason program where the offense was allowed to go against the defense, Harvin gave a glimpse of what he’s got – and what’s to come.

“Percy did great,” coach Pete Carroll said. “The benefit that we might not mention too many times is the fact that he’s been with Bev (offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who also came to the Seahawks from the Vikings), so he’s jumped right into the system. He already knows quite a few of the nuances.

“He’s very explosive. He took the ball and turned it up a couple times today and he’s just lightning fast. You can see why he’s such a factor catching and running and in the kicking game.”   

Russell Wilson, the team’s second-year quarterback, was unable to hold back a smile as he discussed adding a multi-threat option like Harvin to what the Seahawks already had – All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch, who ran for 1,590 yards last season; flanker Sidney Rice, another former Viking who led the team with 50 receptions and seven touchdown catches in 2012; big-play split end Golden Tate, who is coming off a 45-catch, seven-TD season; slot receiver Doug Baldwin, who led the team in receiving as a rookie in 2011; and Wilson, who tied the NFL rookie record by throwing 26 TD passes and also broke the franchise mark for rushing yards by a QB (489) last season.

“His talent level is unbelievable. Off the charts,” Wilson said. “He brings an explosive mentality to the game, which a lot of the guys already have. To have him here is truly tremendous. He’s a guy who’s been one of the best football players in the National Football League for the past several years.”

Wilson has known about Harvin even before either entered the league. Harvin, who will be 25 next Tuesday, is from Virginia Beach, Va. Wilson, 24, is from Richmond, Va. But Harvin played at one of the bigger high schools in the state (Landstown), while Wilson went to the smaller Collegiate High.

“I never got to play Percy in high school,” Wilson said. “He was 5-A, a little bit better than me in terms of high school football. He’s just one of those guys that everybody knew who he was.”

And still do. “When he walks into a room, you get a sense of who he is and what he’s about – that competitive nature, that desire to win,” Wilson said. “When he walks into a room you can see it. When he walks onto a football field, you know he’s there.”  

Harvin returned the compliment by offering, “The biggest thing that stands out to me is just (Russell’s) leadership. When we’re out there, it’s not coach Carroll and all those guys running practice, it’s him. He’s getting us in the huddle, he’s getting us out of the huddle, he’s making sure that we’re out of the huddle within a couple of seconds.

“It’s his show, so he runs it and I’d say he’s been doing good so far.”

As for what Harvin can add to this show, we ain’t seen nothing yet. In addition to the speed and quickness that allows Harvin to flaunt those hands, he’ll also be used as a running back and he has five kickoff returns for touchdowns on NFL resume. Don’t forget, before Harvin was injured last season, he was being touted as a potential MVP candidates because through eight games he had caught 60 passes to share the NFL lead, was second in the league is kickoff-return average (35.7) and was averaging 4.0 yards per carry.

The secret to his success of doing so many things so productively well? It’s not secret at all.

“Just growing up, I played a lot of different positions,” he said. “I was a natural running back up until high school. So just playing the different positions has benefitted me very well. Playing in college at Florida – in a spread offense – helped me out a lot.

“It’s just learning and wanting to be the best at everything that I do.”

Now, he’ll be doing it with Wilson as his quarterback. In four seasons with the Vikings, Harvin caught passes from Brett Favre (2009-10), who was in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career; and Christian Ponder (2011-12), who was in the infancy of his.

“Man, it’s been great,” Harvin said when asked about plying with Wilson. “Since I’ve been here, everyday we’ve been out here – sometimes on the weekends. We’ve just been grinding, just trying to get better. We want to be the best team out there this year and that takes a lot of work.

“We know we’ve got a good team here, so we’ve got get the work and put all the good things together.”

And Percy Harvin is now one of those good things, as his first practice with the Seahawks showed.