By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — For Percy Harvin, the Seattle Seahawks’ February Super Bowl victory helped take the sting off of what had for him been a frustrating 2013 season.
Not only did Harvin win his first Super Bowl with the Seahawks, he came up with a few big plays — including an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown — in Seattle’s 43-8 drubbing of the Denver Broncos.
But when the excitement of the team’s championship died down, Harvin again had time to reflect back on a season in which he appeared in just three of Seattle’s 19 games thanks to preseason hip surgery as well as a concussion in the playoffs. So even though it was just the opening of organized team activities in May, Harvin was pretty excited about taking the field with his teammates for a pain-free practice.
“The Super Bowl for me, it made everything good and I was able to let some of the madness go from missing the whole season, but after I got home, I was just unsettled,” Harvin said. “I felt like I had a lot more to give. I don’t feel like I made my mark the way I wanted to, so I’m just glad to be back out here to get a full offseason to get going.”
Harvin didn’t just say that the hip injury that cost him almost all of last season was behind him, he declared: “This is probably the best I’ve felt since before college.”
That’s very encouraging news for the Seahawks as they begin preparation for the 2014 season. When Seattle acquired Harvin in a trade last spring, it was a splashy move, but it was also, as the season would prove, something of a luxury addition.
Harvin, when healthy, is unquestionably one of the NFL’s most explosive players, but the Seahawks were good enough on defense, had a strong enough running game and enough depth at receiver that they were able to advance to the Super Bowl with Harvin appearing in one regular season game and one playoff game, which he left in the first half with a concussion. And while Harvin made his mark in the Super Bowl, Seattle’s defense did enough, as did receivers like Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, for the Seahawks to have won that game with or without Harvin.
But now, with Golden Tate in Detroit, and with Sidney Rice recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the Seahawks need a healthy Harvin to be a big part of their 2014 plans.
Yes, Baldwin and Kearse are still around, and yes, the Seahawks have high hopes for rookies Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood, but while the Seahawks could certainly survive without Harvin, their offense won’t reach its potential if he misses significant time again this year. So while the real test for Harvin will be surviving the rigors of the season, having him healthy and practicing at full speed in the early stages of offseason workouts is an encouraging start.
“It’s great to have Percy out here practicing with us,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “The days were so few in preparations for games that he played in (last season). … To have him throughout all these weeks — and he’s working and he’s fitting in and he understands the chemistry and communication — he just has tremendous direction to go now. He looks fantastic and he’s working on returning punts and kickoffs, so we’re excited about all of that.”
As Carroll mentioned, Harvin could add to his value by taking over punt return duties, which were handled by Tate a year ago. Safety Earl Thomas is the frontrunner for that job as of now, Carroll said, but Harvin is another possibility. Harvin has proven himself to be a dynamic kick returner, though he has not returned punts in the NFL.
Harvin concedes that punt returns and kick returns are “completely different,” but says he’s hoping to add another element to his game this season if it can help the team.
“The departure of Golden Tate really kind of opened up things here, so coach asked me have I ever done it before, and I told him yes,” Harvin said. “I have been working on it each day, and once I get comfortable enough with it — hopefully by preseason time — I can get a little action back there.”
Action wasn’t a big part of Harvin’s 2013 season, minus a few moments in Super Bowl XLVIII, which is why he hopes, beginning with this week’s OTAs, “to put my mark on this season.
“I didn’t give this team all of what I had last year because of the injuries,” he said. “So I’m just looking to do what I do.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.