RENTON, Wash. -- Receiver Percy Harvin hadn't taken a rep on a football field in a meaningful way since Nov. 4, 2012, when he suffered a ligament tear in his ankle and was lost for the season to the Minnesota Vikings. The team that selected him in the first round of the 2009 draft out of Florida traded him to the Seattle Seahawks -- the last team he'd seen on the field -- in March of this year. The Seahawks were happy to give up their first-round pick in 2013, and sign Harvin to a six-year, $67 million contract with $25 million guaranteed. Head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were convinced that Harvin would take their offense over the top with his rare combination of versatility and explosiveness, but Harvin's other historic trait reared its ugly head on the first day of training camp. Harvin got a labrum tear in his hip, which sidelined him indefinitely.
Seattle managed to go 6-1 without him, but there was always this nagging percolation about Harvin's potential as he recovered in the team's weight room and in New York, where his surgeon resided. That potential came a lot closer to fruition on Tuesday, when Harvin hit the practice field for the first time since his hip injury. He looked, by all accounts, as quick as one could possibly expect on his return, though he was not yet the pure burner who blew by every single one of Seattle's estimable defensive backs in minicamps.
“Today was an excellent day just to be back in the building around my guys," Harvin said after practice. "There’s been a lot of traveling back and forth to New York, but with the support of the organization, and I want to give a big thanks to Dr. [Bryan] Kelly in New York. It’s been a long ride, but it’s been all worth it. I’m just ready to get back to work with my guys and get back on the field.”
Now, it's a process to try and get Harvin on the real field on Monday night against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. Not an impossible task, but as Carroll said, something that bears watching as opposed to a definite Tuesday decision.
"Percy [Harvin] got started today. Limited involvement in practice today, but he got out there running around. He looked good. He looks quick and ready to take the next step, which is the next time we come back on Thursday. We’re going to do it one day at a time.”
What the Seahawks will eventually see, for as long as possible, is a player who can take the ball to the house in a lot of different ways. Harvin has played all 16 games in his career just one (the 2011 season), but he's managed 29 touchdowns in 43 starts -- 20 as a receiver, four as a rusher, and five on kick returns. His rookie season was the one great year for Brett Favre on Minnesota, and Seattle's hope is that Russell Wilson can ignite Harvin's raw, pure talent in ways the NFL has yet to experience.
“I can’t describe it, honestly," Harvin said when asked how it would feel to return to actual football for the first time in almost a year. "It’s been a long ride. I haven’t played since week seven of last season, and just dealing with the trades, dealing with the injury that ended the season, and then coming here and having another injury. So it’s been tough man, I have a lot of things built up in me that I’m just ready to unleash on the field. I’m going to take my time with it, but when it’s time to explode, I will."
Carroll has no doubt about that -- the only issue is time. “He’s got to get through normal days of practice and we’d see how he handles it," the coach said of Harvin. "With the thought we’ve been going with all along is to take the conservative approach and make sure our guys are healthy, and we’re going to continue to do that. We’ve waited this long to get him here; to this point. So we’ll just continue to take our time and see how he goes. The workload will increase as we go through the week and next week and all that and we’ll just see what happens.”