While talking about the Vikings’ recent success, receiver Percy Harvin might have shed some light on what had him upset during the team’s mandatory mini-camp in June.
Remember the drama? During one mini-camp Harvin went from saying he was unhappy, to requesting a trade to saying everything was fine.
Monday Harvin was asked about whether his role on the team was the issue last summer.
Close, but not exactly.
“I think it was just the identity of our offense,” Harvin said. “Just not only me, just guys knowing exactly what the coaches are asking of them on a week-in and week-out basis. Not playing one position one week, and come in and not totally having a grasp on what they’re asking for the next week.”
Things apparently are better defined this year. Harvin is third in the NFL in receptions, first in yards after the catch (217) and continues to make his mark as a return man, getting his fifth career kickoff return for a touchdown in the Vikings' victory over the Lions.
Sunday, despite seeing more bracket coverage than he has all year, Harvin caught three passes for 22 yards and ran three times for 12 more.
And he was all smiles. Clearly, Harvin is happy with the way offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is drawing up game plans.
“I think coach Musgrave has done a great job … of putting (Kyle) Rudolph in great situations. We have a package for (Jerome) Simpson, which you’ve seen, where we’ll take shots downfield. So everybody, I think, knows their role, knows what coaches expect of them to do. Now you can just sit back and try to do it a the highest level you can.”
Big name motivation
Harvin, who spoke expansively Monday, touched on a number of subjects.
He talked about how he had never been the designated No. 1 receiver on any team growing up and the motivation that came with it. Not even in high school at Landstown High School in Virginia Beach, Va., when he was overshadowed by a fellow named Damon McDaniel, who played college ball at Florida State.
Harvin also said he is motivated when playing on the same field as a guy like Detroit’s Calvin Johnson. “And not only offensive players,” he said. “When I go against a great defensive player, too. Like a Charles Woodson, somebody like that, a guy who is respected, it amps my game up so much more.”
While neither Brian Robison nor Jared Allen seemed too enthusiastic about the idea of rotating players in and out of the defensive line this season, it appears that the Vikings have developed some depth there.
Further proof came Sunday, when Everson Griffen and Letroy Guion each had two sacks.
Griffen, who plays both tackle and end depending on the situation, got one sack rushing from tackle and one at end, when he was in for Allen, who was working off a cramp. Guion, meanwhile, has clearly stepped up his game.
“I think having the depth, having those guys inside, has helped us tremendously,” Robison said. “It helps us out; me and Jared, we haven’t had the greatest years so far. (Allen) has two sacks, I don’t have any right now. It’s one of those deals that they help us out and they kind of relieve the pressure off of us.”
Griffen said he has benefited from concentrating on defensive line after the coaches decided to quit trying to have him play some linebacker during training camp. Griffen has three sacks in four games, one off his career high of four from last season.
“That’s just me going out there and showing them what I can do every play,” he said. “
Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway said he expects a fine for his hit on Johnson Sunday. Monday Greenway confirmed that he apologized to Johnson afterwards. “Obviously I didn’t mean any intent to hurt him or anything,” Greenway said. “I was just trying to play the game. Once I saw he was in a vulnerable position, I tried to pull off a little late obviously. Glad he wasn’t hurt and I hope he’s good.”