MANKATO — Bernard Berrian was standing alongside Percy Harvin during Thursday's final training camp practice, when a young fan loudly expressed his appreciation for Harvin.

"You're my favorite receiver!" the boy yelled. Berrian turned around, smiled and extended his arms, feigning as if his feelings were hurt.

It was a comical moment from a guy who didn't seem to have much fun last season.

Wide receivers are often considered to be moody and petulant, and Berrian certainly would have fit that description as he struggled through a 2010 season in which little went right. His performance led to speculation that the Vikings would jettison him before or after the lockout ended.

That didn't happen, although they did restructure his contract.

The Vikings have said repeatedly they are expecting big things from Berrian and banking on the fact he can become the downfield threat they need. Berrian and the other starters likely will only play a series or two Saturday night in the Vikings' preseason opener at Tennessee, but so far coaches say they are pleased with what they've seen from the veteran in practices.

"He's come back with a great approach and the right attitude," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "We need that from him. We really need him to stretch the field and make big plays in the passing game. We all know he's capable of doing it, but part of what we do for a living is not just physical, it's being mentally into what you're doing. There's no doubt he's come back in the right frame of mind and he wants to have a great year. And we fully expect him to."

Said wide receivers coach George Stewart: "The thing I've noticed this year more than the three previous years is he's providing leadership for us. That comes with maturity, obviously, and he's doing a great job with that. He is performing at a level that we all expect him to."

What the Vikings expect is for Berrian to become the player they signed to a six-year, $42 million free-agent contract in 2008 that included $16 million in guarantees. Berrian caught 48 passes for 964 yards and seven touchdowns, including a 99-yarder, in his first year. The reception total was substantially less than what he had in his final season with the Chicago Bears (71), but the yardage and touchdowns were career highs.

Berrian followed that with 55 receptions for 618 yards and four touchdowns in 2009, but his numbers fell off the table last season, dropping to 28 catches for 252 yards with no touchdowns. Those were his lowest totals since his second season in the NFL with Chicago in 2005.

Berrian played in 14 games, missing two because of a groin injury. One of the lasting memories of Berrian's season was his decision to tell then-coach Brad Childress he was all right to play against the Bears on Nov. 14, only to have Berrian decide he could not go and spend the loss on the sideline wearing a coat.

One rumbling that emerged after the season was the fact that quarterback Brett Favre might not have been a fan of Berrian's and thus didn't look to throw him the ball at times. While Berrian seems to be having more fun this summer, he remains guarded around the media and expressed little interest in discussing Favre or 2010.

"The past is the past, but with [Donovan] McNabb here he's a great quarterback and he's going to go out there and just try to do anything to get what the offense needs," Berrian said. "If he's got to throw it here, throw it wherever he has to throw it, he's going to do that."

Asked if he feels rejuvenated, Berrian said: "No, I don't feel rejuvenated at all. Actually came out doing the same things I've been doing since I've been in the league."

Berrian will have plenty of incentive to show that 2010 largely was a fluke and that at the age of 30 he still has plenty left. The one thing the Vikings did was get Berrian to redo his contract. He was due a $3.9 million base salary this season, but that figure now will be $1.9 million with potential incentives.

"Nobody ever really likes to restructure their deal," Berrian said. "What you sign for is what you'd like to stay at. People always get mad at players when they take off and leave. But as far as being restructured, yeah, I restructured it for the team. They wanted a lower cap number so I went and did it."

Berrian refuses to say his role with McNabb and a new offensive system under coordinator Bill Musgrave will be different, but he does admit he and others will get to do a lot more within the offense. The Vikings rolled their wide receivers through quite a bit last season, and that rotation included Berrian. Musgrave is expected to use far more sets in which Berrian won't have to worry about coming off the field.

"[Berrian will play a] very big role," McNabb said. "Everyone had a tough year last year. I think for Bernard it's the same way. You put it behind you and you focus in on what we're doing here."