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Seahawks should turn Percy Harvin loose vs. Saints

By Jim Moore

If you listen to "Wyman, Mike and Moore", you've maybe heard the back and forth I've had with John Clayton about Percy Harvin. The Professor says it would be a mistake if the Seahawks use him as a kickoff returner Saturday because it increases the chances of him reinjuring his hip.

But Pete Carroll said Thursday there will be no limitations.

"Percy Harvin's back and ready to go, and we're anxious to add him to the mix," the Seahawks' head coach said.

When asked if he planned to return kicks, Harvin said: "Absolutely."

Harvin looks forward to helping out his supportive teammates. During his extensive rehab, on almost a daily basis, cornerback Richard Sherman told him: "We've got it, but we're gonna need you to finish."

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Percy Harvin returned a kickoff 58 yards when he made his only appearance with the Seahawks back on Nov. 17. (AP)
"It got real frustrating," Harvin added. "But I'm ready to make it all pay off. The foundation's set. I'm looking to jump on the bus and enjoy the ride."

We all know what this season has been like with the Harvin Hip Watch. To briefly recap, we found out on the first day of training camp that Harvin had a torn hip labrum and required surgery. Then we saw him make his Seahawks debut Nov. 17 against the Vikings. We figured that he would be playing the rest of the season, but we haven't seen him since.

Carroll tells us each week about Harvin's status, giving us little details about the hip soreness that prevented him from returning. Then two Mondays ago, it sounded like Carroll was ready to put Harvin on injured reserve. But later that afternoon, he had a change of heart after seeing Harvin work out. He stunned reporters when he said that Harvin would practice with the intent of playing in the first playoff game.

It's exciting news for two reasons, as you know. Harvin's electric, a game-changing playmaker. And this sputtering offense can use a spark. Clayton understands this, too. He feels that it's more important to use Harvin only on offense.

We got a glimpse of the difference he can make in the Minnesota game. Harvin made a one-handed catch on third down, had a great block for Marshawn Lynch and generally occupied defensive backs, giving his receiving teammates more room to operate.

What a waste it would be to lose Harvin if he were whacked and knocked out of the game on a kickoff return, Clayton reasons. But remember what happened on his one kickoff return against Minnesota? He returned it 58 yards, setting up a short touchdown drive.

This is one of the reasons the Seahawks traded for him. It's one of the reasons they're paying him $11 million a year. When you're paying someone $11 million, you don't want a portion of what he can do – you want the full-meal deal.

Clayton would argue that a portion is better than nothing, but we're in the playoffs, and a long kickoff return by Harvin might be the difference between winning and losing against the Saints.

I know you can argue otherwise. The Seahawks are good enough to beat the Saints with or without Harvin or with or without him returning kicks.

It's like the debate with Russell Wilson. Are you worried about him getting hurt when he runs out of the read-option? In my opinion, Wilson can get hurt in the pocket just as easily as he could in the open field.

I feel the same way about Harvin. You can probably dig up some stats showing that players are more apt to get hurt on kickoff returns than on regular offensive plays. But there's so much of an upside with Harvin that it's worth the risk. It wasn't just a one-time thing what he did in that Vikings game. Last year he averaged 36 yards on his 16 kickoff returns. In 2011, he averaged 32.5 yards on 16 kickoff returns.

Think about the difference – not only do you have the chance to score on one play, at the worst you're going to start your drive at the 30- or 35-yard line instead of the 20.

Say what you will about Jermaine Kearse, Doug Baldwin and Robert Turbin as kickoff returners. They all have good qualities, but they're not consistent threats to go 100 yards like Harvin.

When Carroll was asked on Thursday if Harvin would be limited in any way, he said: "He's going. I told you if he's going to go, he's going to go. So he's playing."

Reading between the lines, that would seem to mean that Harvin will be in the end zone for kickoff returns.

Clayton is called "The Professor" because he's earned that nickname. I'm a student in the back of his class. We agree to disagree to the point that I think it would be a mistake if the Seahawks don't have Harvin returning kicks against the Saints.

The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website, www.jimmoorethego2guy.com, and www.kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at jimmoorethego2guy@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.

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