Vikings vs. Jacksonville: Three and out

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 5, 2012 - 10:54 PM
hide

Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Vikings are only three days away from opening the regular season with a roster so young they might be carded at the door of Mall of America Field. But wait, there's more. Here's a trio of other things you should know:

1 Percy Harvin will be used sparingly on special teams for the foreseeable future.

On the depth chart, Harvin is listed as the Vikings' No. 1 kick returner. Right now, that's a half-truth.

With running back Adrian Peterson figured to be limited at best Sunday -- and for all of September, really -- and with receiver Jerome Simpson suspended for the first three games, Harvin's importance to the offense cannot be overstated. That means Vikings coach Leslie Frazier will take few if any risks with Harvin in the return game at the start of the season.

Does that mean Harvin will be relieved of return duties altogether?

"Not necessarily," Frazier said. "We want to still make sure that we're still utilizing all of his gifts."

Harvin's gifts have been seen plenty on special teams. Don't forget, he returned last season's opening kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown in San Diego.

But just how will the Vikings pick their spots for turning Harvin loose? As Frazier said, "A lot of it is how the game is going."

That really means Frazier will measure just how badly the Vikings need a big return at any given moment.

Plan B on kick returns: Marcus Sherels. But the third-year cornerback still is working back from a sprained ankle suffered two weeks ago and was limited in practice Wednesday. So Plan C would either be rookie Josh Robinson or recently acquired cornerback A.J. Jefferson.

It's also worth noting that in 2011, Jacksonville forced touchbacks on 39 of its 65 kickoffs, which could limit Harvin's involvement even further.

2 Mistral Raymond soon will be the starting safety alongside rookie Harrison Smith -- for the long haul.

If Raymond isn't given the starting nod Sunday, he'll have it before long. The Vikings have planned all offseason to move Jamarca Sanford into a role that better fits him. That means he'll be considered a reliable reserve in the secondary and a valuable contributor to special teams.

Raymond, meanwhile, is on the ascent and seemed poised to take over a starting safety spot a few weeks ago. But then he was struck by back spasms during warmups of the third preseason game. So the coaches want to make sure his back troubles aren't lingering before clearing him for a starting role.

Frazier has pulled Sanford aside to explain the scenario.

"Just telling him to be patient and let us take a look at some things these next couple of days," Frazier said. "We'll make a decision as the week goes on. We have confidence in both of them, and we'll make the right decision."

If Raymond wins the job this week, the Vikings will enter the season with a pair of safeties with little or no NFL game experience, needing Smith and Raymond to develop quickly.

3 Justin Blackmon's hands have Mike Mularkey's attention.

Blackmon should be a focal point of Jacksonville's passing attack right out of the gates. The Jaguars rookie receiver had 10 catches for 136 yards during the preseason and quickly is developing rapport with quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

Don't forget, before drafting Matt Kalil, the Vikings took a long, hard look at Blackmon, impressed with his hands and ability to make catches in traffic.

Jacksonville coach Mike Mularkey compares Blackmon to tight end Tony Gonzalez. Yeah, that Tony Gonzalez, the guy with 1,149 career catches, second in NFL history behind Jerry Rice.

"[Blackmon] has very good hands," Mularkey said. "And he has a knack for coming back to the ball. And young guys don't typically do that. He extends his hands. And the only guy I've seen extend their hands like he does is Tony Gonzalez. I know why Tony had so many catches. It's hard to defend when you catch the ball out in front of you and don't let it get to your body."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland - J. Lester 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
New England 14 FINAL
Kansas City 41
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
Boston
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Ottawa 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Carolina 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Dallas
Colorado 8:00 PM
Calgary
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
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 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do against Atlanta?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close