Harvin was back as the Vikings’ No. 1 kick returner during Saturday morning’s walk-through, and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said he considers Harvin his top returner.
“I think we’re going to have a good plan with Percy this year. He is our No. 1 kickoff returner,” Preifer said. “When we have the opportunity to use him, we’re going to use him. If he’s not back there for whatever reason, we’ll train two or three other guys to make sure we have a capable backup and we’ll go from there.”
Last year, Harvin finished with the best kick-return average in the NFL, 32.5 yards, among players with 10 or more attempts. Harvin finished with 16 returns for 525 yards.
Despite Harvin playing all 16 games for the first time in his career, the Vikings were careful with how many returns they allowed him to take, fearing he would get injured or returning a kick would limit his availability on the ensuing offensive series.
Lorenzo Booker, who signed with the Chicago Bears this summer, led the Vikings with 19 kickoff returns and had a 23.7-yard average. Marcus Sherels, who remains a roster-bubble cornerback, tied Harvin with 16 returns and had a 27.8-yard average.
Harvin, the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2009, made the Pro Bowl as a kick returner that season. He already holds the Vikings record with four kickoff returns for touchdowns.
Last year, Harvin was voted the Vikings’ offensive MVP by his teammates, catching 87 passes for 967 yards and six touchdowns and also rushed 52 times for 345 yards and two touchdowns. The versatile fourth-year player holds the single-season (345) and career (587) rushing-yardage mark among Vikings receivers.
While he brings value with his receiving and rushing skills, Priefer is ready to use Harvin whenever he is available on kick returns.
"Come Week 1, if he is ready to roll we’re ready to have him back there, absolutely," Priefer said.
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.