As was the case for most of the season, the Seattle Seahawks will be without wide receiver Percy Harvin for the NFC championship game.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said after practice Friday that Harvin had not cleared league-mandated protocols for concussion testing and would not play Sunday against San Francisco. Harvin suffered a concussion in last week's playoff win over New Orleans and did not practice all week. Harvin's loss subtracts a significant playmaker from Seattle's offense heading into the game against the 49ers.
"It's super disappointing for Percy," Carroll said. "He wants to play. You can see it. He played his tail off when he had his chance. Just unfortunate circumstances."
Harvin suffered the concussion late in the first half while jumping for a pass in the end zone and hitting his head on the turf as he was hit by New Orleans safety Malcolm Jenkins. It was the second big hit Harvin absorbed in the game. He was belted by Rafael Bush on Seattle's opening possession, a hit that drew a 15-yard penalty.
Harvin brought a jolt of energy and excitement to Seattle's offense before being injured. Harvin had three receptions and had a 9-yard run on his lone carry against New Orleans. He also drew attention and made Seattle's offense function better. The Seahawks had 163 yards of offense in the first half and 114 yards in the second half. Harvin was in for 19 offensive plays against the Saints.
Seattle's offense got comfortable not having Harvin around during the regular season, so missing him in the NFC title game is not a huge adjustment.
"Yes, without a doubt I believe these receivers can get it done. I think we've been able to prove that throughout the season," Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. "Obviously, we would have loved to have Percy on the field not only because he's a great football player, but he's a great teammate and he's been trying so hard to get back on the field. But we have more than enough and guys that are capable of getting the job done."
Missing the conference title game is another blow in an injury-filled first season for Harvin in Seattle. First came hip surgery in early August that sidelined him for the first 2½ months of the regular season. Then after Harvin made his debut in Week 11 against Minnesota, he was sidelined again by a buildup of fluid around his hip and soreness. It got to the point that Carroll and the Seahawks were ready to put Harvin on injured reserve following the regular season finale against St. Louis. Harvin asked for a second chance and responded well enough that he remained on the active roster and became a major part of Seattle's game plan against the Saints.
Seattle will get linebacker K.J. Wright back after he's been out since fracturing his foot in Week 14. Wright was injured against the 49ers but worked diligently rehabilitating his foot after having surgery to insert a screw to stabilize the fracture.
Wright worked extensively in the pool to keep his conditioning up, then specifically focused on cuts and quick movements when the foot had healed to the point where he could run on the ground.
"No, I'm not 100 percent coming off an injury, but at the same time (I'm) football ready. This is the NFC championship, the stakes are high so I'm going to have to suck it up and play football," Wright said. "I tried to get back for the Saints game. I was like, ‘I have to get back and help this team' but they've done just fine. I couldn't let this opportunity get away from me. I made sure I worked my butt off to get back."
Wright said he didn't think he would start and he wasn't sure how many plays he would get. Malcolm Smith has been starting while Wright was out.
"It depends on how I'm feeling, it depends on how the game is going," Wright said. "There's a lot of variables that can go into it."
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