Mike Ferreri: Seahawks, Saints and the 'Percy Factor'

"Faster than B-E-E-P!"

That's the description Seahawks receiver Golden Tate gave this week when asked to describe teammate Percy Harvin on the practice field.

After a solid week of practice, where the optimism regarding Harvin's possible return for the divisional playoff round game grew by the day, Pete Carroll finally said Thursday what he had only said one other time this season, back in November: "Percy's gonna play."

Harvin had hip surgery 5 1/2 months ago, after the Seahawks traded a No. 1 pick to Minnesota to get Harvin and paid him millions - and to this point had the luxury of using one of the most dynamic players in the NFL for one single game in mid-November against the Vikings.

It's been a rocky 5 1/2 months for Harvin.

"It got real frustrating, I know, for the organization," he says. "It was frustrating, too, not knowing if I could practice one day and maybe not practice the next day. So it was frustrating for a lot of people. My hat's off to this organization just for staying patient for me. So I'm just ready to make it all pay off."

While his teammates were putting together a 13-3 season and earning a No. 1 seed in the playoffs, Harvin was off on his own rehabbing his injured hip day after day, week after week.

"Came a time where I thought about maybe just kind of shutting it down," said Harvin, "but the guys just kept giving it to me, kept giving me that positive energy I needed, and it all started turning around for me. So I decided that I was going to give it everything I have and go from there."

Harvin did everything he could to get his hip working again. He spent time in the pool swimming and rode a bike, using any motion that could get his hip functional again. He even did some boxing. And all along the way he had teammates offering their support.

"All of my teammates, all of my coaches, Richard Sherman. He came to me every single day just letting me know that the team will keep it up. He would always say, 'Man we got it. We're going to need you to finish.' He's kept saying that to me."

The eternal optimist, Pete Carroll used a roster spot all season on Harvin. In the NFL where personnel are paramount and injuries force tough decisions to be made, Pete Carroll refused to give up on having Harvin back on the field at some point - he just didn't know when.

"We kept thinking that we had a chance to get him back. He was on the roster all year long and only with the Minnesota game where he could actually help," said Carroll. "We just kept thinking the way he was about it, and the competitor that he is, that he would stick it out; he would give us the opportunity to get him back. We would've loved to have had him earlier, but we're thrilled to have him now."

Harvin's teammates are thrilled, too. Another playmaker, a big one, has finally been added to the mix at a critical point in the season.

"He's fast, he's also quick, he's explosive," said teammate Golden Tate. "When he sticks his foot in the ground and decides he wants to run, I don't think there is a single person in this league who can flip their hips faster than he can before he gets by you. I'm excited to see him play."

On Saturday Harvin will get his chance to make an immediate impact on the season in the divisional round against the Saints. He says the opportunity to play in a game of this magnitude was one of the main things that kept him going.

"I'm just glad to be out there and helping my team win right now. The playoffs, that's what we all dream about. To have home field advantage, all of the things that the team has put in place. It would be hard for me not to try to be out there," he says. "So everything worked out for the best, and I'm looking forward to being out there and helping this team."

Percy Harvin's return may have taken awhile but his timing has never been better.