By Tim Booth
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) — Earl Thomas got a brief look at Percy Harvin during offseason workouts. He saw his skill in a Minnesota uniform the previous four seasons.
And Seattle’s star safety certainly knows what Harvin can do in the virtual world.
“I do so much with him in Madden, I’m just excited to see what he can do out here,” Thomas said. “That dude is a game changer.”
Harvin may finally make his long-awaited and delayed debut for the Seahawks on Sunday when they go for a 13th straight home win hosting Minnesota. Ever since Harvin underwent surgery to repair the labrum in his hip on Aug. 1, the date of Nov. 17 has been watched as a possible return for the dynamic wide receiver. With the added incentive of that potential debut coming against his former team.
Harvin was added to the 53-man roster earlier this week. Coach Pete Carroll has cautioned they won’t rush Harvin’s return. Ask around, though, and most expect Harvin to play.
Aside from Harvin’s potential debut, the game also features two of the best running backs in the NFL in Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch. Their running styles are uniquely different — Peterson more of a speedy glider, Lynch runs choppier — but the end result is consistently chunks of yards being collected.
Lynch enters the week No. 2 in the NFL in yards rushing behind Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy. Peterson is No. 4. Both are coming off big games. Lynch ran for a season-high 145 yards last week against Atlanta, while Peterson had two TDs rushing against Washington.
“They have so many things that they can do so uniquely, but they are different and they both have a really definitive style,” Carroll said. “Marshawn’s way of running and Adrian’s way of running, they’re not at all the same but they’re extraordinary players and really fun to watch.”
Here are five more things to watch as the Seahawks (9-1) try to stay on top of the NFC against the Vikings (2-7):
LUCKY 13: For all of the attention the Seahawks have received for creating one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL, a win over the Vikings would give Seattle a franchise-record 13 straight home wins. The Seahawks haven’t lost at CenturyLink Field since their final home game of the 2011 season and are 21-7 in the regular season at home since Carroll arrived.
QB QUESTION: Vikings QB Christian Ponder is expected to make his fourth straight start despite suffering a dislocated, non-throwing left shoulder last week against Washington. Ponder was the best he’s been all season against the Redskins, completing 81 percent of his passes and throwing two touchdowns. His passer rating of 113.1 was his seventh game with a rating over 100 in 33 career regular-season games.
If Ponder can’t go it’s unclear whether the Vikings would turn to Matt Cassel or Josh Freeman. Cassel stepped in last week when Ponder left late in the third quarter with his injury.
“He played one of his best games and the one thing we’ve had and hoped to prolong is consistent, good plays from Christian,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “He’s shown that he’s capable, but in our league, the consistency at that position is such a big deal, week in and week out.”
TOGETHER AGAIN: The Seahawks went into the season with a solidified offensive line, and haven’t played with those five together since the first quarter of Week 2. Seattle should get offensive tackles Breno Giacomini and Russell Okung back from lengthy stints on the sideline due to injuries, while center Max Unger is expected to return from a concussion that kept him out last week.
The injuries caused the Seahawks’ young linemen to grow up quickly — sometimes with rough patches — and give the team experienced depth it can turn to in the future.
GETTING HEALTHY: The Vikings dressed only 44 players against Washington due to injuries. Two of their best players, safety Harrison Smith and tight end Kyle Rudolph, are still out. But five starters who missed the Redskins game are expected back: FS Jamarca Sanford (groin), DT Letroy Guion (chest), LG Charlie Johnson (elbow), CB Chris Cook (hip), RT Phil Loadholt (concussion).
NO LETDOWN: Carroll sees some striking similarities between the Vikings and Tampa Bay, who built a 21-0 lead on the Seahawks two weeks ago, only to see Seattle stage the largest rally in team history for a 27-24 overtime win. It’s also the Seahawks’ final game before a much-anticipated Week 12 bye and a rest. Then comes the final stretch run that begins with two huge games against New Orleans and at San Francisco.
“We respect the heck out of this group,” Carroll said. “So we shouldn’t fall into any type of category of not thinking that they can’t play really good ball. We’re not doing that.”