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August 1, 2013 at 9:44 PM

So who returns kickoffs now?

A maybe underrated side effect of the Percy Harvin injury is the impact it could have on Seattle’s kickoff return units.

The Seahawks planned on Harvin handling those duties, deciding to let go of Leon Washington — who returned kickoffs for the team the last three years, returning four for touchdowns — in March after making the trade for Harvin.

Harvin is one of the few in the NFL who was arguably better than Washington in kickoff returns during that time, returning five for touchdowns since 2009.

“We’ll miss him on kickoff return; he’s one of the best ever,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll told the NFL Network on Wednesday after it was announced that Harvin would have surgery.

So what now?

Carroll was asked that question Thursday and here’s the answer he gave:

“We have some guys trying out for that spot and Golden (Tate) wants to do it and he can do it. Excited to see Jeremy Lane back there, he’s probably our fastest football player, he wants to do it. Christine Michael is going to be back there as well and Bryan Walters, who has a great background in college of being a very productive returner will be back there, too, and there are some other guys want to get back there, too, but those are the top four guys.’’

Handing those duties to Tate, though, could be somewhat problematic as he is now more valuable than ever as a receiver, and also is contending to be the team’s punt returner — he has returned 17 punts in his Seattle career, 16 as a rookie in 2010.

Carroll acknowledged today that it may not be ideal for Tate to be one of the team’s main receivers as well as a kickoff and punt returner.

“Concerned about doing both and taking all of those reps,” Carroll said. “He is capable and good at it and all of that, but I would like to get another guy as well so we can have a rotation at least.’’

So maybe it becomes Walters, a free agent from Cornell who attended Juanita High in Kirkland; or Lane, who is appears likely to make the team anyway, but whose efforts in that regard would be aided greatly by being able to return kickoffs; or Michael, the team’s second-round (and highest) draft pick in 2013 and who said earlier this week he would love the opportunity.

At any rate, it’s another intriguing position to watch as the pre-season begins Thursday in San Diego.

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