Percy Harvin will. Percy Harvin won’t. Percy Harvin might.
Pete Carroll eschewed his ongoing vague and evasive approach to Percy Harvin questions Monday and said Harvin will practice Thursday. If that happens, it will be the first time since Friday, Nov. 15.
Carroll had stated directly in the past that Harvin would not practice. However, he hadn’t provided the extended answers about Harvin that he did Monday. And, certainly, it’s a surprise that Harvin is expected to practice for the first time in six weeks with the goal being to play in the playoffs.
“He’s come to the point where we can go to that and we’ll keep our fingers crossed for him,” Carroll said. “He wants to contribute and be a part of this team and he’s going to do everything he can to do that. So we’ll see what happens.”
To repeat what Carroll said yesterday:
> Stashing Harvin away until the playoffs was not part of some master plan. This is the way it worked out. He’ll practice Thursday, then they will see.
> Neither Harvin’s contract nor any personal situation had any influence on how he has been handled. It’s strictly an injury issue.
> He is very pleased with the amount of effort Harvin has put in to return to the field.
> He didn’t mention a grassy knoll or second shooter.
One other note about Carroll, who has one more year on his deal with the team that pays him $7 million annually: I asked him if his contract had been extended or changed in any way. He smiled and said, “I’m in great shape.”
And, an additional note that there were reports yesterday that the Minnesota Vikings are interested in talking to Dan Quinn and Darrell Bevell about their head coach opening. The Cleveland Browns have also reportedly asked to interview Quinn.
Our Dave Boling took a look at the NFC playoff picture. He’s already getting revved up for one more visit from the San Francisco 49ers. From Boling:
There’s only one way this has to go.
Philadelphia must beat New Orleans on Saturday, and San Francisco has to top Green Bay on Sunday afternoon.
If those tumblers fall, it will bring the San Francisco 49ers back to Seattle on Jan. 11 for a divisional round playoff game at CenturyLink Field.
Hopefully there will be enough time to do a full seismic retrofit of the region’s buildings and bridges, because a third meeting between these teams this season might cause tectonic shifting — players colliding like continental plates, and fans just coming entirely undone.
Here’s a look at the NFC playoffs from our Darrin Beene:
BREAKING DOWN THE NFC PLAYOFFS
1. Seattle (13-3)
Strengths: Defense ranks 1st in NFC in total yards (273.6) and points allowed (14.4). Seahawks’ good-but-not-flashy offense doesn’t make mistakes, with a league-best +20 turnover margin and fourth-best mark of 26.1 points per game. Special teams are air-tight.
Weaknesses: Suffered most penalties in the NFL. Offense is streaky and prone to some funks (11th in NFC in total yards at 339.0 per game)
X factor: Homefield advantage is huge; team is 5-1 in the playoffs all-time at CenturyLink Field since it opened in 2002.
2. Carolina (12-4)
Strengths: Led NFL in sacks with 60 and has second ranked-defense in NFC (301.2 yards per game, 15.1 points per game). QB Cam Newton is a true dual threat (585 yards rushing, 3,379 yards passing).
Weaknesses: Offense lacks dynamic playmakers outside of Newton, and finished 11th in NFC in scoring (22.9 ppg) and 13th in total yards (316.8 ypg).
X factor: Teams lacks playoff pedigree, making postseason for first time since 2008. Are they just glad to be here?
3. Philadelphia (10-6)
Strengths: Coach Chip Kelly’s offense was one of the NFC’s best, ranking first in yards per game (417.3) and second in points (27.6). RB LeSean McCoy (NFL-best 1,607 yards) and WR DeSean Jackson (1,332 yards) are special.
Weaknesses: Defense is just so-so, ranking 13th in NFC in yards allowed (394.2), 8th in points (23.9) and 9th in sacks (37). QB Nick Foles makes his playoffs debut.
X factor: How good are they? Six wins were against sub-.500 teams, and two more were against 8-8 teams. NFC East was weak, so winning it is no great accomplishment.
4. Green Bay (8-7-1)
Strengths: With QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Randall Cobb back from injuries, the Packers’ offense might be NFC’s best. And they can run it, too, with Eddie Lacy (1,178 yards) and James Starks (493).
Weaknesses: Weakest defense of the playoff teams, giving up 372.3 yards and 26.8 points per game. Their best defender, Clay Matthews (thumb injury) is questionable for the playoffs.
X factor: Rodgers provided a huge lift in the season finale, delivering the game-winning TD on fourth down. If he gets hot, it might be enough to overcome the leaky defense.
5. San Francisco (12-4)
Strengths: The 49ers are balanced, ranking 7th in NFC in scoring (25.4 points) and third in points allowed (17.0). And they’re the defending NFC champs, so they’ve been here-done-that.
Weakness: This is an older team that will have to win twice on the road just to get to the NFC championship game.
X factor: As QB Colin Kaepernick goes, so go the 49ers. In their wins, he completed 61.4 percent of passes with a 19-2 TD-to-INT ratio. In losses, he was 50.0 and 2-6 TD-to-INT ration.
6. New Orleans (11-5)
Strengths: Coach Sean Payton is back leading an explosive offense after a year suspension, and the defense is much improved, ranking third in total yards (305.7), fourth in scoring (19.0) and second in sacks (49).
Weakness: Saints have no running game, and must rely on QB Drew Brees to move the ball. And, they struggled on the road this season (3-5).
X factor: Like the 49ers, they’re an experience crew but will have to get it done away from home. Already this season, they’ve lost at Carolina and at Seattle.
> Danny O’Neil of 710 ESPN with what we learned from Sunday’s win against St. Louis.
> Seahawks playoff tickets go on sale this morning.
> Seahawks.com talks to Michael Bennett about the state of the defense.
> Peter King writes about the return of Aaron Rodgers.
> Thought this was an interesting tweet from MMQB’s Greg Bedard:
Brady used to call O'Brien in March asking to change drills for future OTA practices. That's the level of commitment needed to be great— Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard) December 31, 2013
He’s referencing current Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, who was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at one point in New England. Bedard was wondering if O’Brien would be interested in the Detroit job and if Matthew Stafford carried that level of commitment.