Percy Harvin (Kevin Brown/Viking Update)
Multi-dimensional athlete Percy Harvin missed the first two days of Vikings training camp, but Harvin has been flashing his speed and ability to learn quickly in his first week of practices.
Prolonged contract negotiations meant that the Vikings had to wait until the third day of training camp to get their initial look at first-round wide receiver Percy Harvin.
The wait appears to have been worth it.
Using what coach Brad Childress refers to as a high football acumen, Harvin has appeared to be a quick learner when it comes to executing a series of plays that have been designed for him.
Harvin, a multi-talented and explosive player from Florida, is often used out of the slot but also can play other receiver positions or line up at running back and has caused the Vikings to design their own version of the Wildcat in which he lines up as the quarterback.
That gives the Vikings’ offense a far different look than the more conservative system that fans have often griped about since Childress became coach in 2006. Harvin also has been practicing punt and kickoff returns and almost certainly will be used in the latter role.
In his first week of practice with the Vikings, Harvin used his blazing speed to make a handful of nice catches on deep passes. That is especially important because his presence is going to mean defensive coordinator will not be able to put eight men in the box on a consistent basis to stop Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s leading rusher in 2008.
If opponents focus on Peterson, Harvin or Bernard Berrian will be left in an advantageous situation. In other words, coordinators are essentially going to be put in the position of picking their own poison.
The key, of course, will be for either quarterback Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels — the two are battling for the starting job — to execute in the pass game.
Harvin also is going to get a chance to run the show a bit when he lines up in the shotgun. That is going to be a major headache, considering Harvin’s options will include handing off to Peterson, running the ball himself and perhaps even passing.
Not surprisingly, Childress downplayed the use of the Wildcat.
“We’re just seeing exactly what we are, who we are and just trying to kind of fine-tune different things,” he said.
CAMP CALENDAR: The Vikings will break camp after two practices on Aug. 12.
Wide receiver Jaymar Johnson missed one day of practice but he had a very good reason. Johnson, a second-year player who is battling for a roster spot, and his wife, Kassy, welcomed their first child. Jaymar Jr. weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces.
Steve LaCroix, the Vikings’ vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer, said a week into training camp that the Vikings were averaging 4,200 fans per day in Mankato as opposed to 2,700 a year ago.
The Vikings wore full pads only twice in the first nine days of training camp. The weather in Mankato also has remained relatively cool, making this camp nearly ideal for players. Coach Brad Childress also gave nine of his oldest veterans the day off last Saturday. That was before the Vikings’ first off day of camp.
“Coach has done a good job of just taking care of us,” Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen said.
The Vikings were forced to conduct a walkthrough practice in a gymnasium on the Minnesota State, Mankato campus a week into training camp because of rain. It was the first time the team had been forced indoors since 2007.
LT Bryant McKinnie has switched agents and now will be represented by Drew Rosenhaus. McKinnie had been a client of Ben Dogra’s. Rosenhaus said the change had nothing to do with McKinnie wanting a new contract. McKinnie received a seven-year contract extension worth $48.5 million (just under $18 million in guarantees) in September 2006 and is under contract until 2013.
The five-year contract that WR Percy Harvin signed is worth $14.28 million and includes $8.5 million in guarantees. The 22nd pick in the draft last April, Harvin got more guaranteed money than center Alex Mack, who was selected a spot in front of Harvin by Cleveland. Mack’s guarantees total $8.3 million.
RB Adrian Peterson tried to pull a fast one on coach Brad Childress and the Vikings coaching staff during a recent practice when he ran into the huddle with the second-team offense during a third-and-short drill. Childress quickly realized it when the offense broke the huddle and blew his whistle. Peterson was replaced by running back Albert Young.
Jason Washington, the defensive backs coach at Rice University in Houston, was the Vikings’ participant in the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship program this year. Washington worked with Vikings defensive backs coach Joe Woods and assistant defensive backs coach Derek Mason.
DE Kenechi Udeze, who retired just before training camp because of issues with his feet caused by the chemotherapy he underwent to fight leukemia, made an appearance at a recent practice to talk to his former teammates.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s great for our organization and our defense. There are so many teams that are always looking for corners. Knowing we have two great guys who play at a high level for us, it solidifies things when you start thinking about the future, preparing things for the long run. It’s great for the organization and the team to have two quality people locked up the way we do.” — Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on the fact starting cornerbacks Cedric Griffin and Antoine Winfield signed long-term contract extensions this offseason.