Scoggins: Purple still looking for Harvin's helpers

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 25, 2012 - 12:40 AM

With Jerome Simpson facing a three-game suspension, the Vikings' young wideouts have to get better, and soon.

hide

Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin (12) was sixth in the NFL last season with 87 catches, but he needs some help from the team's young corps of receivers.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Percy Harvin finished sixth in the NFL with 87 catches last season. The next-closest Viking, Michael Jenkins, ranked 105th with 38 catches.

The Vikings were the only NFL team that had one receiver catch twice as many passes as anyone else on the roster. That's not a distinction they hope to repeat.

Harvin is a dynamic talent who should get as many touches as humanly possible. He can't carry the load by himself, however. He needs help from the rest of the Vikings receiver corps, but with the season opener fast approaching, it's anyone's guess who will step forward and fill that void.

Jerome Simpson is capable of providing that speedy vertical threat, but he won't be available the first three games while he serves an NFL-mandated suspension. In his absence, the Vikings need others to pick up the slack, take pressure off Harvin and provide second-year quarterback Christian Ponder a reliable target.

Who, though? That's still unknown and should be a growing cause for concern. The Vikings have Harvin, Simpson and who else? A few have shown brief flashes, but nobody has exactly distinguished himself, at least not to the degree that inspires much confidence.

The auditions continued Friday night against San Diego in the third preseason game, but the regular-season dress rehearsal offered more mistakes and ineptitude than clarity by the first-team offense in a 12-10 loss.

The only thing worse than the Vikings offense in the first half was the performance by the NFL's replacement referees. Memo to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: Please finalize a new labor deal with your referees association, pronto. The incompetence displayed by the replacement crew dispatched to the Metrodome on Friday was beyond embarrassing.

Actually, the entire first half was a dreadful mess. The Vikings held out Simpson because they wanted to take a long look at their young receivers, but the offense struggled to establish anything productive.

Publicly, the Vikings have expressed faith in their receivers, and they're certainly in a better spot now than last season. Simpson alone guarantees that. So far, he has been a model teammate and employee in the locker room since arriving with off-the-field baggage.

Simpson's track record suggests he'll be inconsistent, but his physical skills are undeniable. He possesses big-play capability and -- as he revealed in hurdling a Bills defender last week -- he occasionally produces spectacular moments.

If this training camp is any indication, Ponder will lean heavily on his tight ends, primarily Kyle Rudolph. Those two have developed a close rapport on and off the field, and tight end is an integral component of offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's system.

That's not enough, though. The Vikings need to find more options and better depth at receiver.

Jenkins is the most logical candidate, but he's 30 and missed the final five games last season because of a knee injury. Jenkins recently agreed to a $1.5 million pay cut, lowering his base salary to $1 million, which presumably improved his chances of securing a roster spot. That's hardly a vote of confidence.

Jenkins is a big target, but he lacks top-end speed to create separation. Ponder targeted Jenkins on the first two third-down attempts Friday. The first pass sailed wide, the second one went through his hands as he came out his break.

The Vikings would love to see a few of their younger receivers separate themselves, whether it's Devin Aromashodu, Stephen Burton, Emmanuel Arceneaux or Jarius Wright. That hasn't happened yet.

Aromashodu averaged 18 yards per catch last season, but he's wildly inconsistent. He didn't catch a pass in the first two preseason games, prompting the coaching staff to blame some of his ineffectiveness on bad luck and poor throws. He caught three passes for 28 yards in the second half Friday, which can be viewed as a positive sign only if he continues to build on that.

"We're still trying to determine which guy is going to step up and be that replacement [for Simpson]," coach Leslie Frazier said. "I don't think we can say we answered that tonight."

That better happen soon. The regular season and Simpson's suspension are closing in fast. Percy Harvin is a terrific player, but he can't do it alone.

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Golden State 4 1st Qtr 10:20
Cleveland 6
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
Phoenix
Vancouver 2 2nd Prd 11:01
Buffalo 2
Arizona 3 2nd Prd 11:38
NY Rangers 2
Montreal 3 2nd Prd 8:50
Columbus 1
Philadelphia 0 1st Prd :02
Toronto 1
Chicago 1 2nd Prd
Florida 0
St. Louis 0 1st Prd 10:26
Winnipeg 0
Minnesota 7:30 PM
Nashville
Ottawa 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Detroit 9:30 PM
San Jose
Northern Ky 78 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
East Tenn St 73 FINAL
Citadel 74
Winthrop 35 2nd Half 10:43
Campbell 47
Delaware 54 2nd Half 10:58
Drexel 36
Jacksonville St 40 2nd Half 8:28
Eastern Ky 44
Northeastern 46 2nd Half 8:10
Elon 53
Sacred Heart 65 2nd Half 13:15
Fair-Dickinson 62
Western Carolina 33 2nd Half 11:52
Furman 27
Char Southern 47 2nd Half 15:19
Gardner-Webb 57
Western Ill 27 2nd Half 15:52
IUPUI 42
Nebraska Omaha 40 2nd Half 14:50
IUPU-Ft Wayne 51
Radford 45 2nd Half 14:55
Liberty 41
St Francis-NY 32 2nd Half 17:28
Long Island 34
Wofford 43 2nd Half 11:59
Mercer 39
Minnesota 46 2nd Half 14:35
Michigan State 55
High Point 54 2nd Half 14:10
UNC-Asheville 47
Samford 41 2nd Half 15:12
UNC Greensboro 45
Nebraska 38 2nd Half 10:59
Ohio State 57
Wagner 34 2nd Half 15:00
Robert Morris 58
Mount St Marys 36 2nd Half 12:10
St Francis-PA 42
Houston 35 2nd Half 13:51
Temple 39
Vanderbilt 35 2nd Half 12:22
Tennessee 45
Chattanooga 43 2nd Half 13:25
Va Military 44
Milwaukee 36 2nd Half 15:16
Wright State 36
Coastal Carolina 32 2nd Half 13:50
Presbyterian 48
Central Conn St 55 2nd Half 10:15
Bryant 51
Ga Southern 36 2nd Half
Appalachian St 20
SIU Edwardsville 4 1st Half 15:02
Austin Peay 8
Green Bay 11 1st Half 13:47
Ill-Chicago 7
Texas-El Paso 8 1st Half 11:52
Louisiana Tech 16
FIU 11 1st Half 12:27
Marshall 11
Rider 14 1st Half 12:24
Monmouth 7
Eastern Ill 0 1st Half 16:42
Murray State 8
Charlotte 9 1st Half 14:08
North Texas 18
North Dakota St 4 1st Half 12:22
Oral Roberts 17
Old Dominion 11 1st Half 14:42
Rice 4
TX-San Antonio 15 1st Half 12:13
Southern Miss 18
UT Martin 12 1st Half 12:45
Tennessee St 8
Fla Atlantic 12 1st Half 14:11
Western Ky 11
Northern Ariz 10 1st Half 14:34
North Dakota 12
Grand Canyon 14 1st Half 14:30
Chicago State 13
Utah Valley U 2 1st Half 15:50
UMKC 11
ULM 7:25 PM
South Alabama
Texas-Arlington 7:30 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 7:30 PM
Ark-Little Rock
Troy 7:30 PM
Texas State
Arizona 8:00 PM
Colorado
SMU 8:00 PM
Memphis
Tenn Tech 8:00 PM
Morehead State
Rutgers 8:00 PM
Purdue
Southern Utah 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Montana State 8:05 PM
Eastern Wash
UC Davis 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
UC Irvine 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Cal State Fullerton 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Montana 9:00 PM
Idaho
BYU 9:00 PM
Portland
Pacific 9:00 PM
Santa Clara
Arizona State 9:30 PM
Utah
San Diego 10:00 PM
Gonzaga
St Marys-CA 10:00 PM
San Francisco
Oregon State 10:00 PM
Stanford
Long Beach State 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Rice 68 FINAL
Old Dominion 83
Manhattan 67 FINAL
Monmouth 84
Georgia Southern 39 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Marshall 74 FINAL
FIU 50
TX-Arlington 62 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
ULM 45 FINAL
South Alabama 38
Troy 75 FINAL
Texas State 59
Georgia State 39 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 56
William & Mary 66 2nd Half 10:31
Coll of Charleston 38
Delaware 53 2nd Half 7:28
UNC-Wilmington 47
UMBC 17 2nd Half 17:12
Maine 37
UMass Lowell 51 2nd Half 11:15
Vermont 42
Albany 38 2nd Half 13:41
Hartford 32
Stony Brook 44 2nd Half 12:20
Binghamton 33
Boston College 42 2nd Half 16:07
(8) Louisville 55
(23) Syracuse 38 2nd Half 16:32
Clemson 27
(16) Duke 32 2nd Half 13:30
Georgia Tech 43
Florida 24 2nd Half 16:28
Alabama 30
NC State 33 2nd Half 15:52
(9) Florida State 51
Miami-Florida 45 2nd Half 10:26
Wake Forest 48
LSU 34 2nd Half 13:50
Ole Miss 39
(11) Miss State 28 2nd Half 16:41
(2) South Carolina 43
Fairfield 48 2nd Half 11:02
Iona 40
Marist 43 2nd Half 9:01
Saint Peters 45
Quinnipiac 70 2nd Half 15:48
Rider 20
Virginia 42 2nd Half 15:30
(15) North Carolina 44
Pittsburgh 36 2nd Half 13:03
(4) Notre Dame 65
Ohio State 55 2nd Half 13:27
Penn State 42
Massachusetts 42 2nd Half 12:28
Dayton 52
(22) George Washington 47 2nd Half 13:45
Richmond 40
Saint Louis 30 2nd Half 16:19
Rhode Island 41
Wright State 53 2nd Half 12:22
Detroit 36
Green Bay 51 2nd Half 10:47
Oakland 40
Western Ky 46 2nd Half
Florida Atlantic 36
Indiana 47 2nd Half 13:25
(5) Maryland 60
North Texas 30 2nd Half 17:47
Charlotte 44
Central Arkansas 31 2nd Half
Sam Houston St 20
SE Louisiana 36 2nd Half
Northwestern St 28
Nicholls 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Incarnate Word 0 1st Half 20:00
Stephen F Austin 0
Denver 7 1st Half 15:30
No Dakota State 11
IUPU-Ft Wayne 2 1st Half 11:33
Nebraska Omaha 14
IUPUI 0 1st Half 20:00
South Dakota 0
Lamar 16 1st Half 12:56
McNeese State 23
Western Ill 12 1st Half 12:35
South Dakota St 15
Missouri 0 1st Half 20:00
(12) Texas A&M 0
(13) Kentucky 7:00 PM
Arkansas
(20) Rutgers 6 1st Half 15:30
(25) Northwestern 4
Southern Miss 6 1st Half 14:28
TX-San Antonio 5
Wisconsin 12 1st Half 13:39
(17) Iowa 17
North Dakota 7:30 PM
Northern Ariz
Northern Colorado 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Louisiana Tech 0 Postponed
Texas-El Paso 0
Eastern Washington 8:00 PM
Montana State
Idaho 8:00 PM
Montana
Auburn 8:00 PM
Vanderbilt
(6) Tennessee 8:00 PM
Georgia
Gonzaga 8:00 PM
San Diego
USC 8:00 PM
Washington
Portland 8:00 PM
BYU
(24) California 8:00 PM
Oregon
(19) Stanford 8:00 PM
(7) Oregon State
Chicago State 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
UMKC 8:00 PM
Utah Valley U
San Francisco 8:00 PM
St Marys-CA
UCLA 9:00 PM
Washington St
Santa Clara 9:00 PM
Pacific
CS-Northridge 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
Cal-Irvine
Hawaii 9:00 PM
Long Beach St
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close