The task was traditional, and should have been easy: Selecting an MVP from the Seahawks’ just-concluded training camp.
MVP (most valuable player) morphed into MVC (most valuable camper) and then became simply BP (best player), but it took carrying the initials to MIP (most impressive player) to reach not only a consensus but a unanimous selection: Percy Harvin.
And the most impressive aspect about Harvin is that he participated – fully and impressively – from the first practice on July 25 to the 13th practice on Wednesday. Remember, Harvin had hip surgery last Aug. 1, so he never was a factor in camp and was limited to a handful of snaps in one regular-season game.
“You have no idea,” Harvin said through a smile when presented with the what-a-difference-a-year-makes scenario. “My body is feeling tremendously good. I’ve actually reached some gears that I didn’t know I had. I’m feeling very, very fast right now.”
Harvin isn’t just feeling fast, he looks fast. Freakishly fast. Intimidatingly fast. Gone-in-a-blur fast. Whether he’s catching passes from the flanker spot, out of the slot or coming out of the backfield. A healthy Harvin presents a dynamic that was missing from the Seahawks’ offense last season after he was acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings in March.
“To have Percy for an entire training camp has really helped a lot,” quarterback Russell Wilson said after completing his third training camp, but the first with Harvin among his options. “Our connection, as you saw today, he made a lot of plays, was doing a lot of great things.”
And Harvin’s dossier of receptions in the final practice came during a workout when he figured to be limited after having his leg and foot stepped on during Tuesday’s session.
“To have Percy out there with his explosiveness, his tough mentality is great,” Wilson said. “We love him as a teammate.”
Make that a teammate who makes those around him better.
“Good players always help everyone else,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “And Percy is an outstanding player. He’s explosive. He makes plays. That makes everyone around him better.”
To say that Harvin is on schedule slights what he is doing. To say he is ahead of schedule doesn’t tell the whole story, either.
“I was supposed to be sitting out every other practice,” he said. “But I’ve been going every day. Like I said, I’m feeling very good. I’m explosive. I’m coming out of my breaks with no problem at all. I’m feeling very confident and I’m ready to go.
“It’s going to be a good year for me.”
Other honor campers:
Best Defensive Players
Michael Bennett and K.J. Wright. While you could find Bennett lined up at the five-technique end spot that now-departed Red Bryant filled the past three seasons or inside in the nickel line, Wright was the last-starter-standing among the linebackers for most of camp. But each was consistent, and consistently good. That shouldn’t be surprising. Bennett led the NFL’s top-ranked defense with 8.5 sacks last season after being signed in free agency. Wright has ranked among the Top 5 tacklers in each of the past three seasons. And his productive presence on the weak-side has been even more important this summer with middle linebacker and leading tackler Bobby Wagner and strong-side ’backers Bruce Irvin and Malcolm Smith sidelined.
Best Offensive Player
Doug Baldwin. The already-productive Baldwin is one of those receivers who can take advantage of the additional coverage that Harvin will draw. He has moved from flanker to split end, but continues to impress – and also will continue to work from the slot. “Doug is an ultimate competitor. We love the way he competes,” Bevell said. “He’s catching the ball well. I think something that kind of showed up is his speed. I think his speed is a little underestimated, and his speed definitely has shown up at camp.” So Baldwin definitely is not pedestrian.
Best Special Teams Player
Steven Hauschka. They don’t call this guy “Hausch-Money” for nothing. In addition to going three-for-three on field goal attempts in the opener against the Broncos, Hauschka has been the picture of consistency in practice.
Paul Richardson. Right tackle Justin Britt and middle linebacker Brock Coyle have played more – Britt while trying to lockdown the starting spot and Coyle while stepping in for Wagner. But the coaches, players and scouts who offered opinions all tabbed the speedy receiver who was the team’s top draft choice in May. “Here’s very talented,” Bevell said. “Obviously we know that he’s got great speed. He’s got great quickness. But the best thing is for him to have the opportunity to get reps. We really like him. We feel like we kind of know what he can do. But it takes time.”
Best Free Agent Addition
Kevin Williams. How is it that the Super Bowl champions are able to add a six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle to the mix so late in the process? That question answers itself, because Williams signed with the Seahawks on June 16 because he wants a chance to help them win another Super Bowl. He turned 33 on Saturday, but Williams’ performance during training camp shows he has plenty left to do just that.
Most Improved Player
Phil Bates. He has looked like an NFL wide receiver since signing with the Seahawks as a rookie free agent in 2012. This camp, Bates has played like an NFL wide receiver. He has used his size (6-1, 220) to battle defenders and displayed the ability to catch the ball in traffic. At one of the most-competition positions on the team, Bates has been one of the most-competitive players.
“It’s just one of those love affairs that you almost want to leave your wife for. It just keeps going and going and going. And the fans just make it so much better to come out there; it makes it easier to practice.” – Michael Bennett on the 31,000-plus fans who attended the 12 open-to-the-public practices