RENTON — The Seahawks will have a better idea of how long receiver Percy Harvin will be sidelined after he has surgery on his ailing hip Thursday in New York.
The Seahawks receivers who remain standing, though, say the condition of their team hasn’t changed. They had high hopes for this season with Harvin, and they continue to have high hopes now that he will be gone for at least two months, and possibly three or four.
“Whether Percy is on the field or not, we’re going to focus on what we have and move forward,” said receiver Doug Baldwin. “… We’ll be happy when Percy gets back. But we have guys who are more than capable of filling in for him.”
Coach Pete Carroll echoed a similar theme in comments made to the NFL Network (he was not made available to local reporters), saying the team’s offense will not change.
“It really doesn’t,” he said. “We said from the start, we just want to put him in the lineup and be one of the guys out there playing, and add him in. So, we really haven’t changed anything. He’s a fantastic football player, and we were just going to add him into the mix.”
In fact, while the news of Harvin’s injury ignited much gnashing of teeth among the team’s fan base, others were quick to point out all 11 starters return from the offense that finished last year as one of the best in the NFL. Over the last 10 games of the season, including playoffs, Seattle averaged 32.4 points a game, including 150 in a three-game span late in the season.
“We think that we have everything we need to succeed, and we are going to do that,” said receiver Golden Tate.
It is Tate and Baldwin who will be expected to carry more of the load without Harvin around.
Tate, as primarily an outside receiver, doesn’t play the exact spot as Harvin, who was slated to play inside. But their two responsibilities were expected to overlap quite a bit.
Tate acknowledged in the spring that his first thought when the team acquired Harvin was to wonder how it would impact his opportunities after he finished last season with a career-high 45 catches for 688 yards — especially since he is entering the last year of his contract.
Wednesday, Tate said, “We are very similar players. So the things that they have, they intended (for) him to do, I’ll be more than happy to do that… . Whatever they need, I’m excited to get the opportunity to get more reps and help this offense.”
Baldwin, who plays essentially the same spot as Harvin as an inside receiver, might see his role increase the most. And the good news for the Seahawks is that Baldwin is healthy again after an injury-ravaged 2012 season in which he saw his receptions decrease to 29 from the 51 of his rookie year in 2011.
Baldwin, though, said his first thought after hearing that Harvin would have surgery was to feel empathy for Harvin.
“We’re a close-knit group, so when Percy went down, a lot of us reached out to him and it was heartfelt,” Baldwin said. “It was rough for us. But at the same time we have to move forward, and when he comes back we’ll be happy for him.”
Carroll also emphasized in the NFL Network interview that Sidney Rice will also soon be back from Switzerland, where he is having a non-surgical procedure on his knee.
With Rice, Tate and Baldwin, Seattle will still have its top three receivers from a year ago. Also back is tight end Zach Miller, who was third on the team in receptions last season with 38. Miller has yet to practice during training camp while dealing with a foot injury. But Carroll insisted over the weekend that he expects Miller to return soon and be ready for the season.
The Harvin injury, though, will create more of a need for some younger players to emerge for depth. The most likely candidate is former University of Washington star Jermaine Kearse, who caught just three passes last year as a rookie but has often been rotating in with the starting offense at all three receiver positions.
“We have guys like Jermaine Kearse who are more than capable of doing things on Sundays that we’re not worried about,” Baldwin said. “… We still have depth and we still have guys on this team that haven’t even had a chance to play football yet on Sundays and who are more than capable of filling in if we need them to.”