EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — If Percy Harvin gets his way, he will be returning kicks for the Minnesota Vikings in the season opener at San Diego on Sunday.
Harvin says he has been lobbying his coaches hard to put him back there when the season begins. He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie two years ago in that position and wants to get another crack at it after a healthy preseason.
“I’m lobbying hard,” Harvin said with a smile on Thursday. “Special teams coach (Mike Priefer) came up and asked me and I told him `definitely.’ Him and coach are going back and forth. Nothing bad. We’ve been having a little laugh with it. We’ll see game time.”
The dilemma the Vikings coaches are facing is putting one of their best playmakers on offense in a spot that exposes him to injury and has the chance to wear him out and limit his effectiveness as a slot receiver.
“You’re taking a look at is it worth it for what we’re going to ask him to do on offense,” head coach Leslie Frazier said. “And the fact that he’s so explosive as a kickoff return guy, he’s a threat every single time he touches the ball, and we need points. Points are going to be at a premium on Sunday, so we’ve got to weigh those factors in.”
Harvin has returned three kicks for touchdowns in his first two seasons in the league. He is also the team’s No. 1 receiver and figures to be used in a number of different spots on offense — on the edge, in the slot and perhaps in the backfield — this season.
“He’s one of the best kickoff returners in the league, if not the best,” Frazier said. “But he’s also the best slot receiver and one of the top wide receivers in the National Football League so we’ve got to wait and (figure out) what’s best.”
That’s a demanding list of responsibilities, so adding another one that carries with it an element of danger is a little daunting. But Harvin said he’s not concerned about that in the least.
“It’s a contact sport,” Harvin said. “No matter what you’re doing, blocking, anything, there’s going to be contact. So I don’t look at that. I go 100 miles an hour and it is what it is.”
Priefer said Harvin is his first choice to return kicks, but he also understands that other factors are in play. If Harvin does not do it, Lorenzo Booker will get the call.
Harvin said he has felt great all preseason, aside from a minor rib injury a few weeks ago. He hasn’t had a migraine headache this year yet and chuckled when asked if returning kicks would make him too tired for his other duties.
“That’s just coach kind of over-thinking right now,” he said. “We have talked about that, saying when I can rest. I’m seeing a lot of positions this week. We talked about it. I’ll be ready to go.”
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