MANKATO -- Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin left the field Saturday on a cart after suffering an unknown injury during the Vikings' morning practice.
Harvin, the NFL's offensive rookie of the year last season, suffered a shoulder injury in 2009 but did not miss a game because of that problem. Harvin did miss several practices and one game because of migraine headaches.
The odd thing about what happened to Harvin on Saturday is no one saw him suffer an obvious injury. He did make what was perhaps the catch of the day in 7-on-7 drills when he bobbled a pass from Tarvaris Jackson but managed to catch the ball despite tight coverage from cornerback Asher Allen. Harvin's helmet popped off on the play as he made the catch, fell to the ground and then got up and tried to run.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said in his post-practice news conference that he didn't even know Harvin had left on a cart until told by a member of the media relations staff. Coach Brad Childress was not scheduled to speak to reporters after the practice.
Cornerback Benny Sapp also left on a cart during practice but he was able to return to the field and said afterward that he had just experienced some cramping problems most likely because of the heat.
The other storyline from today's practice was the abuse that second-round running back Toby Gerhart received. Although the Vikings were in shoulder pads and shorts, Gerhart took at least three hits that made it feel like a full contact day.
The first came from linebacker Chad Greenway in a 9-on-7 drill and the second and third came during 11-on-11 work. Nose tackle Pat Williams delivered an impressive hit that sent Gerhart flying near the end of a play after the rookie from Stanford caught a pass from Jackson. Near the end of that period, Gerhart was the intended target of a pass from Jackson but took a solid hit from middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley.
"It's expected," Gerhart said of the hits. "I feel like I'm playing football again."
Said Williams: "I don't care who it is. This ain't college no more, there's grown me out there. They're paying these college boys like they already played before. This is a different breed out there, this is grown men, it ain't boys no more."
Asked if he had anything to say to Gerhart as he was on the ground, Williams said: "I don't apologize to nobody. Get your [butt] up. Let's go. That's how I roll."
Some other quick observations from today's first practice:
- Kicker Ryan Longwell made five of seven field-goal attempts, making kicks from 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 yards. Longwell missed his final two kicks, which were from 50 and 53 yards. The last attempt hit the right post.
- Ray Small, Darius Reynaud and Harvin worked on punt returns. Reynaud, who has been moved to running back, held that job for much of last season.
- Rookie quarterback Joe Webb was picked off by Greenway on a pass over the middle in a drill early on. It looked as if the receiver was supposed to be running a crossing route but Greenway was able to read the play.
- Jamarca Sanford got several reps with the first-team defense and most of the time it appeared to be in place of strong safety Tyrell Johnson. It won't be surprising at all if a real competition develops for that job.
- E.J. Henderson is in uniform and taking part in portions of practices but it's clear the Vikings don't want him having any real contact. Thus, Jasper Brinkley is getting the majority of the work at middle linebacker. This isn't a surprise considering Henderson is coming off a broken femur suffered last December.
- Talked to cornerback Antoine Winfield after practice and he said his broken foot is fully recovered. Winfield saw action Saturday both at left corner and inside in the nickel and said he would be fine with playing inside if that's what the Vikings want him to do.
- Cornerback Chris Cook got some work with the second team and watching the second-round pick you can see his ability in press coverage. Cook, who is 6-2, 212 pounds, has long arms and does a nice job re-directing wide receivers at the line of scrimmage.
- The final two periods of the practice featured special categories (where team's work on specific situations) and then an 11-on-11 (team) period. Jackson got the work with the first team, as expected, and completed three of six passes by my count in team. One of the incompletions came when he tripped while rolling out but attempted to force a pass for tight end Visanthe Shiancoe on the sideline. Instead, safety Husain Abdullah stepped in front of the ball and picked it off. Sage Rosenfels and Joe Webb got two snaps apiece in team. Webb did not throw a pass, handing off to Ian Johnson and then pulling the ball down and running (he didn't run, of course) with it.
- Finally, this doesn't come from practice but we should note that veteran receiver Kelley Washington, in whom the Vikings expressed an interest, has signed with Philadelphia.