We know for sure that newly-signed Bills wide receiver Percy Harvin is going to be active tonight, and should have a role in the offense. Today, we have an idea of what that role might look like.
Buffalo Bills insider Chris Brown, on the John Murphy Show earlier today, said he can “foresee a package of plays” and we should expect Harvin out there for about “15-20 plays” as he joins the team to take on one of his former squads, the Seahawks.
That sounds like a reasonable number for someone who hasn’t played in over a year, assuming he’s in at least good physical condition. Brandon Tate (concussion) has already been ruled out of tonight’s game, so there should be four active receivers besides Harvin.
Robert Woods has been limited all week with a foot injury that hampered him in the loss to the Patriots last week, but he should be in a position to at least play a full game today. Marquise Goodwin is returning from an injury that kept him out of the game last week, and should be fresh for most of today. Walt Powell and Justin Hunter should continue to occupy depth roles.
Harvin is known for running wide receiver sweeps; he has 145 rushing attempts in 73 career NFL games, including five runs for 31 yards in five games with the Bills last year. Bills’ offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn has shown himself to be a fan of unique offensive looks, and the Bills have run a few receiver sweeps this season. It would almost be surprising if Harvin doesn’t see at least one of those tonight.
Aside from that, though, this is probably a mix of easing him back into the offense and not putting too much physical stress on him. Even though the man calling the plays has changed, the bulk of the coaching staff was around when Harvin was last with the team, including Lynn, Rex Ryan, and receivers coach Sanjay Lal. There will be enough in place from last season that Harvin should be familiar with to use him effectively, while keeping in mind that he hasn’t played in a live game in over a year and probably has some rust to shake off.
He should become more involved after the bye week, when the Bills travel to Cincinnati. For tonight, though, we should have a few opportunities to see what he can bring to the offense, in all of its dimensions.