It was only two series and a handful of plays but, for Geoff Schwartz, it was wonderful.
"I'm a football player who hasn't been able to play football," he said. "So it's nice to finally be back playing."
Schwartz missed all of the 2011 season with Carolina because of a right hip problem. Signed by the Vikings over the offseason, he had sports hernia surgery during the preseason. And while he had been back practicing with the team for a while, he finally got a chance to play Sunday in the 38-26 loss to the Redskins.
Schwartz, 26, stepped in for two series at right guard in place of starter Brandon Fusco, one in the second quarter and one that started late in the third quarter. Coach Leslie Frazier said the team wanted to get some film on Schwartz.
"We felt it was a good game to do it, and it worked out pretty good to get him, I think he had about 11 snaps," Frazier said.
Frazier said Schwartz held up pretty well, and that more reps could be in his future.
"It moved fast," said Schwartz, a Panthers seventh-round pick in 2007 out of Oregon. "I mean, I looked it up. I had missed the last two preseasons, and the past season. It had been 29, 30 games I'd missed without being on the field at all."
Fusco didn't look at the decision to play Schwartz as a reflection on his own play. But the Vikings opened training camp hoping Fusco and Schwartz would compete for the starting job.
Fusco said he felt he could improve in some areas.
"Just cleaning up on technique," he said. "I have to continue to work and study more on the guys I play. I have to be more confident out there, play my game, be aggressive.''
Harvin feels fine
Percy Harvin said he came out of Sunday's game feeling fine. The Vikings receiver looked a little beat up at times after making 11 catches for 133 yards, running twice and returning three kickoffs. He leads the NFL with 49 receptions and 316 yards after the catch.
"I'm all good,'' he said. "This is the best I have felt in a while. I'm a little sore, but no sorer than anybody else. I've got two days off. I'll be ready to go Wednesday."
Frazier was asked Monday if there was a way to keep Harvin from taking too many hits. Harvin had been dealing with a hamstring issue.
"He plays, as you now, at 100 miles per hour," Frazier said. "If you give it to him two times in a game, those two times, they are going to be full-tilt."
Quarterback Christian Ponder was bound to have one of those games that reminds people he is a second-year player who is in his first full season as a starter.
Ponder had three turnovers. Two of them led to 14 points, including a pick-six to Madieu Williams that put the Vikings down 19 points early in the fourth quarter. Ponder's other interception came in the end zone and ended a fourth-quarter comeback attempt in the waning seconds.
"He's in his second season; there's going to be some growing pains along the way," Frazier said. "We know that. This is part of the process with him. Part of the evolution of being an NFL starter."
The Vikings went into the Sunday's game ranked ninth in run defense. They came out of it ranked 11th after giving up 183 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries (5.7 yards per carry). Quarterback Robert Griffin III ran 13 times for 138 yards (10.6) and two touchdowns, including the clinching 76-yarder on third down with 2 minutes, 43 seconds left.
"Their running back [Alfred Morris] was averaging [98.2] yards per game rushing and he finished with  yards rushing," Frazier said. "But the quarterback had 138 yards rushing. You don't see that every day. So, no, I don't think we took a step back [defensively] at all. I think we played a quarterback that was a little bit different than most of those we see."