RENTON — Percy Harvin’s most feared on-field attribute is his shiftiness and ability to stop and start in a flash.
So maybe it makes sense that news of his potential availability for the rest of the season changed in an instant Monday.
After hinting for the past week that the team might put Harvin on the injured reserve list, making him ineligible for the rest of the season, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday that Harvin will return to practice this week with the hope of playing in the team’s playoff game Jan. 11.
“Percy is going to practice with us (Thursday) with the intention of playing in the next game, and we’ll see what happens,’’ Carroll said. “It has come to a point where he can go to that and we will keep our fingers crossed for him. He wants to contribute and be part of this team and he is going to do everything he can do, so we will see what happens.’’
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If Harvin can make it back, the Seahawks offense would get a potentially huge addition as it enters the playoffs.
Harvin, acquired from Minnesota in the offseason for three draft choices, including a 2013 first-rounder, gave a glimpse of what he can do in his only Seahawks action, a 41-20 victory over the Vikings on Nov. 17. In that game, he made one highlight-reel catch for 11 yards and returned a kickoff 58 yards, each setting up Seattle touchdowns.
He missed the team’s first 10 games after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. And he has not played since the Minnesota game while battling soreness in his hip.
Carroll cautioned there are no guarantees Harvin will play, and that he will have to show he is healthy during practices leading up to the playoff game.
“Right now I’m not even saying day-to-day or week-to-week,” Carroll said.
In a tweet sent shortly after Carroll’s news conference, though, Harvin sounded optimistic it will work out, writing: “12’s see u in two weeks … it’s go time again.’’
The sudden change in Harvin’s prognosis might lead to the thought the Seahawks were merely saving Harvin for the playoffs.
Carroll insisted that was not true, that Harvin has simply shown enough improvement in recent days to think there is a chance he can make it back, especially with Seattle having a bye week. Carroll noted that Harvin “ran real well’’ during a workout Monday.
“There was a time when I thought maybe he wouldn’t have a chance to take the turn that he needed within the last month or so because we knew it (the season) was getting down,’’ Carroll said. “Because he needs a couple weeks (to get ready). Now he has a couple weeks.
“… There is no strategy, no behind-the-scenes stuff. It’s kind of just this is the end of the opportunity right now and so we took it as far as we could. We waited as long as we could, demonstrated as much patience as you could, and he did the same as he was trying to get ready.’’
Carroll also attempted to downplay any mystery about the nature of Harvin’s injury.
“It’s just that he had a major surgery in his hip,’’ Carroll said. “And there are a lot of people who walk around for years getting back from that and he’s trying to do it in months. And he’s not trying to just get back to being a normal human being walking down the street. He goes a million miles an hour and throws his body everywhere. He has to be perfectly fit to do that. So we learn as we go. He’s learned as he’s gone along to try to figure this thing out, and it’s taken some time in a very delicate situation.”
And while he extolled the talents of Harvin and the potential contribution he could make, Carroll also said the Seahawks don’t plan to greatly alter anything if he does return.
“If he can help his team, then that’s great, and we have never, ever said that this changes anything for us,’’ Carroll said. “He’s one of the terrific young players on our team and we are hoping he can do his part and fit in. And we won’t change anything to do that. But it will be great for him, so we will benefit from it if it works out well. We’ll see what happens.’’
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.