Vikings' 60-second rant: Harvin starting to break out

Posted Oct. 19, 2010 @ 7:14 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

He has been the best player on the field the past two games. And yet, it almost seems like we're waiting for the other shoe to drop with Percy Harvin.

The biggest concern, naturally, would be the migraines. As in, when are they coming back?

For now, they are stowed away as Harvin has made explosive plays in each of the past two games. Against the Jets, he gave the team two great TD catches after the passing game had struggled badly early on. And you know if he had caught that dump-off pass (which was too high) from Brett Favre, Harvin would have taken it at least 30 yards. Instead, Favre got picked on the next play, and the game essentially was over. In Week Six, Harvin completely reversed the momentum that was all Cowboys with his second-half-opening kickoff return for a score.

It's hard to tell if Randy Moss' arrival has been the biggest thing, but it certainly hasn't hurt. So maybe it's no coincidence that Harvin has played his best recently.

Or maybe it is better health. His hip is a thing of the past, and the migraines haven't been an issue of note in several weeks.

The Vikings lined up Harvin in several spots Sunday. Expect more of this now that he's catching fire.

"We talked about that before, about (Florida head coach) Urban Meyer saying he may have been their best running back," Vikings head coach Brad Childress said. "In fact, he takes a great look at runs coming out of the backfield — outside runs, inside runs.

"We're just trying to put the ball in his hands and get him as many touches as we can."

Many thought Childress was throwing too much at Harvin as a rookie. It turned out that he handled almost everything quite well. Now almost anything is up for grabs, including returning punts and — wait for it — lining up under center every now and then.

"We thought he could be a good slot receiver," Childress said. "We continue to work with him in the punt-return game to a spot where perhaps he gets some touches there. Even though he hasn't done much of that return game since high school, he was a guy that was always trained at it. He's very adept at catching the football and fearless in terms of looking at a return, setting up people on a return, being able to bounce if he needs to."

Most of this will be, as Childress would say, spot duty. Harvin is most valuable as a slot receiver, and he's starting to find creases now. Moss has helped. Favre has been better. The line is blocking. Adrian Peterson is Adrian Peterson.

So, with all these forces at work, could Harvin be the X-factor? The guy who really turns the engine in key spots? Oh yes. Watch him work against the Packers' depleted secondary; enjoy his work against a young, inconsistent Patriots backfield. The Packers and Patriots are 18th and 20th in kick-return defense, too.

This is where Harvin shows just how valuable he is: right in the toughest stretch of the season for these suddenly interesting Vikings.