By Danny O'Neil
After taking a closer look at Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Danny O'Neil puts the focus on another player who could be a major factor in Saturday's divisional-round playoff game between Seattle and New Orleans: Percy Harvin.
• Position: Absentee receiver, game-changing talent
• Height: 5-11
• Weight: 184
• Age: 25
• Experience: Fifth season
|• Pick'em | 'Pete Carroll Show' | John Clayton||• O'Neil: Hawks mantra: They deal with us||• O'Neil: QBs Wilson, Brees play different roles||• O'Neil: TE Jimmy Graham is the mismatch||• O'Neil: FS Earl Thomas is the equalizer||• Moore: Don't expect another blowout win||• Moore: Harvin should be turned loose||• Huard: Seahawks should be able to run||• Henderson: Wilson hopes for pressure||• Henderson: Carroll stressing right mindset|
Teams usually have 16 weeks of game tape to scout an opponent for the playoffs. The Saints have 16 plays to try and determine Seattle's plans for receiver Percy Harvin.
He appeared in one game during the regular season after undergoing hip surgery, catching one pass and returning one kickoff, but his presence – and the explosive speed that he brings – will not only force the Saints to honor the threat he poses, but try and anticipate how he'll be used.
"We're going to mix him in," coach Pete Carroll said. "He's just going to play as the other guys play. I don't know what you think is going to happen, but we're hoping if he gets to that point that he can play, that we utilize him as it fits. He has been a very dynamic football player. He has been able to create stuff that's unique, that's given him his reputation."
The Seahawks' success doesn't necessarily depend on Harvin. This is a team that matched a franchise-record for regular-season victories while having Harvin on the field for 16 offensive snaps in one game during the regular season.
But after Seattle's offensive efficiency took a nose dive over the final four games, there's also a little bit of hope that Harvin could jump start the scoring for a team that managed 77 points over the final four regular-season games, down from the 170 the Seahawks totaled over their final four games last season.
Could the uncertainty over Harvin's status actually turn out to be an asset for Seattle?
"If we utilize him in the right way, for sure," receiver Doug Baldwin said. "He's got to be comfortable with going, and he's got to know the stuff that he's going to be in there for. If he can take advantage of it, I think he's going to be a great asset.
"He'll get his opportunities, for sure."