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Seahawks still learning how best to use Percy Harvin

Questions remain about whether Seattle receiver can be more of an option as a pass catcher down the field

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin has 22 receptions this season, with 12 of those coming behind the line of scrimmage. (AP)
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin has 22 receptions this season, with 12 of those coming behind the line of scrimmage. (AP)
Tim Booth The Spokesman-Review
RENTON, Wash. — Everyone has seen Percy Harvin take the quick screen or a handoff on a fly sweep and turn a play that starts at the line of scrimmage into a gain of 20 or 30 or more yards. But after five games this season with the Seattle Seahawks, questions remain about whether Harvin can be more of an option as a pass catcher down the field. “Well, we know he’s got speed and we know he can go down the field with speed,” Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “He’s got great quickness so we can use him in that. The test always is, is to make sure some of those guys get the ball in their hands.” The Seahawks are still trying to figure out how best to use the unique talents of Harvin within a run-first offense. Seattle never got its trial and error opportunity with Harvin last season following his trade from Minnesota because of hip surgery that limited him to one regular-season game. His on-field influence was never fully felt until the Super Bowl. So that process is happening for the first time now. The difficulty in fitting Harvin in was most evident last week in Seattle’s 30-23 loss to Dallas. “I just think they overall had a great defensive game plan just taking away the bubble screens, some of the sweeps they took away,” Harvin said. “Overall (their) defensive coordinator had a heck of a game plan. It slowed us down. It threw us off rhythm.” Marshawn Lynch finished with only 10 carries and just two in the first half. Seattle attempted to throw three wide receiver screens to Harvin that went for zero yards and he had three rushes for (minus)-1 yard. The fact Harvin finished with nearly as many overall touches as Lynch had carries had fans in an uproar that a run-first team was not leaning on its workhorse. It didn’t help that Seattle finished with only 48 offensive plays and was 5 of 13 on third downs. “We want to get the running game going, we want (Lynch) to be a big factor, and we want you to have to deal with that running game that number 24 brings us. And when we’re not, we’re not quite the same and we don’t want it to be that way,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. This season, Harvin has 22 receptions, with 12 of those coming behind the line of scrimmage. He has only one catch on a ball thrown more than 10 yards, according to STATS Inc. Harvin’s average of 6 yards per catch is last among all wide receivers in the NFL averaging at least two receptions per game. The average point where Harvin is catching the ball through five games is 1.1 yards past the line of scrimmage, also the lowest number in the NFL. Against Denver, Harvin finished with 42 yards receiving, with 41 coming after the catch. Harvin’s numbers are slightly skewed because of big plays that have been called back due to penalties. He had a 40-yard touchdown catch against Washington called back because of a penalty. But for the most part, Seattle has simply thrown the ball to Harvin immediately and asked him to try to break a big play. While the clamor is for Harvin to be used more down field, the track record throughout his career is that Harvin is not much of a threat down field. Harvin has 303 career receptions and only 11 of those came on a throw that traveled more than 20 yards, according to STATS. More than half of his receptions — 241 total — have come within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and 115 of those behind the line of scrimmage. “I’m just staying within the offense. When my number is called, I’m trying to do it to the best of my ability,” Harvin said. “When I don’t have the ball, just try and affect the game in the same way.”
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