RENTON, Wash. — The Seattle Seahawks woke up Monday with a game-and-a-half lead on the rest of the NFC and the knowledge that they play four of their final six games at CenturyLink Field, where they have tied a franchise record by winning 12 in a row.
They then received news that significant reinforcements could be on the way soon. Receiver Percy Harvin was moved to the 53-man active roster with the possibility that he could make his long-awaited debut Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, his former team.
And if he does, Harvin could be working behind Seattle’s season-opening offensive line, which has not been together since the second game of the year. Coach Pete Carroll said there is a chance that center Max Unger (concussion), left tackle Russell Okung (toe) and right tackle Breno Giacomini (knee) could all return this week.
“It’s a very upbeat feeling around our locker room right now,” Carroll said of a team that played what he felt was its most complete game of the season in beating Atlanta 33-10 Sunday, its fifth victory in a row.
The only sour note was news that cornerback Brandon Browner — one-fourth of the Legion of Boom secondary — could be out for an extended period with a groin injury suffered against the Falcons.
Carroll called the injury “pretty serious” but said it was too soon to know how long Browner will be sidelined. He didn’t rule out that it could be season-ending.
Walter Thurmond stepped in against Atlanta for Browner, who played just 13 snaps before being injured, with Byron Maxwell filling in as the third cornerback.
“We’re in good shape at the position,” Carroll said. “Of course if we’re going to miss Brandon it’s going to be significant because he’s a terrific football player for us. But, we do have really capable guys to step in.”
The receiving corps has likewise managed well despite being without Harvin all season and Sidney Rice the past two games (and for the rest of the season).
The Seahawks say there’s no need to rush back injured players. Carroll said Monday the call on Harvin this week is “not a pressured decision.”
Harvin has not played since Nov. 4, 2012, when he was a member of the Vikings for their 30-20 loss to the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. In that game, Harvin suffered a season-ending ankle injury. He was traded to Seattle in March in a deal that sent three draft picks to Minnesota, including the Seahawks’ 2013 first-rounder, and has been sidelined since training camp with a hip injury that required surgery.
The team activated him Monday to beat a deadline to either put him on the active roster or have him not be eligible to play all season. Carroll said if Harvin shows he can withstand the week of practice, he might be able to play Sunday.
“He’s got to practice every day and show that all that he’s done in the rehab work has paid off and that he can sustain through each day,” Carroll said. “It’s really the next day that we always look at (and how he recovers from the previous day’s work).”
The revamped offensive line had one of its best days of the season against the Falcons. For the first time this season, the Seahawks rotated liberally, using Alvin Bailey as a tackle in passing situations, usually shifting Paul McQuistan to guard.
Carroll said the improvement of younger linemen such as Bailey and Michael Bowie will give the team options and allow them to ease in the returning veterans.
“Just because those guys come back doesn’t mean that they have to play the whole game,” Carroll said. “They haven’t played in a while, so we can easily see rotations to keep those guys fresh. We’re fortunate that we might be able to do that.”
Also likely back this week is defensive end Red Bryant, who like Unger sat out the Atlanta game with a concussion suffered against Tampa Bay.
The Seahawks have weathered the injury storm to enter the stretch run well-positioned, and now appear to be getting healthier.
“It’s a time when the push is really on right now, a very intense time during this season for all the clubs trying to put it together to get situated well here at the end,” Carroll said. “And to have that kind of a boost is big for us.”