Percy Harvin (Hannah Foslien/Getty)
The Vikings’ two biggest playmakers, Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, are attending OTAs but not practicing. That isn’t keeping them from competing against each other during their rehab work while running hills.
Adrian Peterson has a new rehabilitation buddy in Minnesota.
Percy Harvin is back at the Minnesota Vikings’ Winter Park practice facility, but his time here doesn’t include the full practice regimen of other players taking part in the opening week of organized team activities. He’s hoping to rejoin practices in the next week or two.
Harvin, who had minor shoulder surgery on April 24, returned to Minnesota to watch practices and work out on the side, even if he isn’t quite ready to participate in them.
“I gave him a big hug when he showed up,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said of Harvin. “He texted me Monday night, Memorial Day, because I wasn’t sure what his flight schedule was going to be and he said, ‘I’m in town. What doctors do I have to see tomorrow morning?’ I texted him back: ‘Is this the Percy Harvin, the real Percy Harvin?’ Just great for our meetings, great our coaches to see him around.
“He’s a guy that’s so well-respected by our team and all the guys know how much of a playmaker he is, but he’s become one of the playmakers on our football team. It is, it’s great that he would be here in a voluntary situation.”
While Peterson has been rehabilitating a left knee that suffered anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligament tears that were surgically repaired in December, Harvin joined him this week under the watchful eye of athletic trainer Eric Sugarman.
Peterson and Harvin performed different rehab drills – Peterson stood on one leg while catching a football and did other balancing and stability drills – but he and Harvin did their conditioning work together. During one drill that took place during practice, the two jogged the width of the field and then sprinted up a steep hill that is about 30 yards long. Despite a leg injury, Peterson won that event at least a couple of times.
By the end of it, Harvin was doubled over looking for a break.
“That hill is definitely a good thing for us right now,” Harvin said. “He might’ve got me twice. We was racing the whole time. I’m out here just to push AP. He’s a very important part of this team. We need him out here. So the quicker we get him back out here, the better.
“I’ve been doing drills with AP since we’ve been here. We did a couple drills in the sand yesterday. So I’ve been out here working with him. He’s amazing. I told him the other day I don’t think he’s human. Two weeks ago he beat a couple guys in a race. When I got here yesterday, I told them guys they should be embarrassed.”
Frazier didn’t see Harvin and Peterson racing as part of their rehab – he was busy with practice nearby – but he planned on reviewing the events.
“Our trainer was telling me about that and we’ve got it on tape, so I’m looking forward to seeing that. They looked real good,” Frazier said. “The good thing is those guys are competing and they pushed one another. That’s good for us – two great athletes like that pushing one another in competition in their rehab, that’s a good thing.”
However, the Vikings having their top two players injured isn’t good. Harvin led the team in receptions (87), receiving yards (967) and receiving touchdowns (six). Peterson led the team in rushes (208), rushing yards (970) and rushing touchdowns (12).
Last year, Harvin played in all 16 games for the first time in his career. Because of migraines, rib injuries and other issues, he missed three games in his first two seasons. Last year, he not only missed no games during a dismal season for the team, he started a career-high 14 games and had equally impressive results in the statistics.
Even with a rookie quarterback in Christian Ponder, Harvin equaled or surpassed his previous career marks in receptions, yards and touchdowns.
But, beyond the few games he missed in previous seasons, he also missed dozens of practices, including a long stretch in the 2010 training camp that included the death of his grandmother. Last year, the amount of practice time Harvin missed because of injuries dropped dramatically.
Although Harvin said he believes he initially hurt his shoulder in Week 6 or 7 last year, Frazier said the Vikings weren’t aware that he would need surgery after the season.
“He finished the season. There was nothing in his exam that indicated that he needed to have surgery, but once he began to work out in the offseason, things began to crop up a little bit so we brought him in and did an MRI and we found out he needed to have surgery,” Frazier said.
Despite the delayed surgery, Harvin could be ditching his rehab partner and returning to practice in the next week or two. It would be a move from one form of competition to another, but he would be leaving the hill work to Peterson, who isn’t expected to join practices until at least the preseason.
“I think the first couple I won AP kind of smiled and said, ‘You know I’m trying to beat you.’ I said, ‘I wouldn’t want it no other way ,’” Harvin said. “So we challenge each other, whether we’re out here, in the weight room, squatting, bench pressing. Me and him compete constantly and that makes us better.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.