RENTON, Wash. -- Pete Carroll told Percy Harvin that the Seattle Seahawks were considering placing him on injured reserve to open up a roster spot ahead of the postseason.
Harvin's response: "Coach I'm ready to play ball."
That conversation less than two weeks ago was the start of a return that took another significant step on Thursday when Carroll announced Harvin would play on Saturday against New Orleans in an NFC divisional playoff game.
"We're excited about him going and excited for him. It's been a long, long haul for a guy that's such a great competitor and it means so much," Carroll said. "For him to have the opportunity to join us now is really exciting, I know, for him and us, too."
There will be no limitations on how Seattle can use its biggest offseason acquisition, brought to Seattle in a trade with Minnesota. Harvin ended up a spectator for most of the 2013 regular season, but now could make his biggest impact in the playoffs as a wide receiver and kick returner.
It could be a big boost to Seattle's offense, which slumped late in the season.
"I'm just glad to be out there helping my team win right now. The playoffs, that's what we all dream about, to have home-field advantage, to have all the things the team has put in place. It would be hard for me to try to not be out there," Harvin said. "Everything worked out for the best and I'm looking forward to being out there and helping this team win."
Harvin missed the first 2 1/2 months of the season following hip surgery in early August. He returned in Week 11 against Minnesota and caught one pass and had a 58-yard kickoff return. Harvin was then sidelined again by what Carroll called "soreness."
But Harvin's problems went beyond just soreness. He had fluid buildup and swelling in his hip following that game against the Vikings, a 41-20 Seattle victory.
"I kind of knew during the game. Something quite didn't feel right," Harvin said. "But it was expected. It was expected but we didn't know to that extreme. It came and that was a setback that we had. We had two, three of them but they are in the past."
The turning point for Harvin came on Dec. 30 when Carroll essentially gave an ultimatum, saying the team was considering putting him on injured reserve. Harvin was impressive enough during a 15-minute workout with quarterback Russell Wilson that Carroll delayed making a roster decision.
Harvin took part in practice both days last week while Seattle was on its bye and was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday this week.
"I'm just looking to fit in anywhere I can. This offense has done its share and wouldn't be in this position that it is right now," Harvin said. "This team is already set. The foundation is set. I'm just looking to jump on the bus and enjoy the ride."
The Seahawks also expect rookie tight end Luke Willson to be able to play less than two weeks after he was taken off the field on a cart after injuring his left ankle against St. Louis in the regular season finale. Willson was initially feared to have a fracture, but was later diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain. He was a full participant in practice Wednesday and Thursday.
"They checked him out right off the bat and looked like he had a broken leg, and they checked him out again later that night and he didn't," Carroll said. "So all I can tell you is it was remarkable whatever happened in there."