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

St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 3
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 12 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 4
Washington - LP: D. Fister 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 8
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1
Boston - LP: T. Layne 2 FINAL
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 5
NY Yankees - WP: S. Greene 8 FINAL
Detroit - LP: D. Price 4
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: Z. Wheeler 2
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: M. Latos 7
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: H. Noesi 3
Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 6
Oakland - WP: D. Otero 5 FINAL
Houston - LP: C. Qualls 4
Milwaukee - LP: Z. Duke 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: D. Thayer 3
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 3 FINAL
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 1
Miami - LP: H. Alvarez 1 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: H. Santiago 6
Colorado - LP: J. Nicasio 2 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: S. Casilla 4
Atlanta 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 6:02 PM
ULM
Boise State 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
D.C. 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
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 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
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: Who would you rather have on your team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close