Minnesota Vikings: Remove Percy Harvin from Kickoff Returns in 2012
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Percy Harvin’s place on kickoff returns must end in 2012.
Don’t get me wrong. Harvin is one of the best kickoff return men in the NFL. There’s no question about that. He alters the strategy of kickoff units.
He burst onto the scene in 2009 and returned 42 kickoffs for 1,156 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie campaign. In the two years since then, he’s returned two more for touchdowns.
Sure, he's a phenomenal return man. At the same time, though, Minnesota needs him to be its No. 1 receiver. He’s Minnesota’s only home run threat at the wide receiver position.
In 2011, he was the only receiver with over 40 receptions (he had 87) and 475 receiving yards (he had 967). In defense of his teammates, the passing game was inconsistent and in a year of growth with rookie quarterback Christian Ponder at the helm.
But that doesn’t change the fact that Harvin was the only commodity at his position that caused opposing defenders to have nightmares. The talent around him last year wasn't that great, and this year's talent is unproven.
In each of his two seasons since his rookie campaign, he has increased his total receptions and receiving yards.
He has yet to eclipse 100 receptions or 1,000 receiving yards in a season, but those are milestones he could easily surpass if he were on the field for more offensive sets and given his increased chemistry with Ponder.
When you get down to it, the only reason Harvin needs to be off the field for kickoffs is because of the violent nature in which he plays the game and his propensity for injury. Given his history with migraines and injuries, which his physical style surely doesn't help, Minnesota cannot risk losing its best wide receiver to an injury suffered on special teams.
Should Percy Harvin be removed from kickoff returns?
That is especially the case this year, as there are legitimate candidates to replace him. Players that have the speed and athleticism to be a home run threat on kickoff returns.
Josh Robinson and Jarius Wright are those two men.
Both rookies ran sub-4.5 40-yard dashes at the combine (Robinson 4.29, Wright 4.42). Both players are even built like Harvin: shorter, well-built men who aren’t afraid of contact. In fact, both of them welcome it.
Don’t get me wrong. Neither of those players will be Percy Harvin on kickoff returns. But they possess similar abilities.
Yes, Minnesota will miss Harvin on kickoff returns. But I believe Minnesota will miss Harvin more when he’s absent from offensive plays than it will miss him on kickoff returns in 2012.
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