Starting With Simplicity

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 5, 2009 – 4:48 pm

The 1st step to a great punt return, which can require a complex string of movements and deviations, is as simple as just catching the ball. Well, it sounds simple anyway. But anyone who’s stood 50 yards downfield from an NFL punter realizes just how difficult catching punts can actually be.

Everyone is pretty sure Vikings WR Percy Harvin has what it takes to accomplish the complex string of movements and deviations part of the punt return experience. After struggling a bit early in his NFL career at fielding punts, and then catching one yesterday off his helmet, it became evident that Harvin needs to start with the simple step.

“I think he misjudged that one that he caught right off the top of his forehead,” special teams coordinator Brian Murphy said jokingly. “He doesn’t normally catch like that. We’ll get him to catch the way everyone else catches.”

The joking set aside, Harvin takes seriously the responsibilities the Vikings coaching staff is giving him. He come to the Vikings with high expectations, and it’s probably safe to say that no one has higher expectations than Harvin himself.

On Wednesday, the Viking spent a big chunk of the afternoon practice on special teams work – specifically on the free kick (a punt following a safety). And Harvin took all the reps, catching each one gracefully (and never off the helmet).

While meeting with reporters following the afternoon practice, Harvin said he thought Wednesday was a better day catching punts and that he’s going to continue to work on everything to improve his game. Even though he’s only been in camp a few days, Harvin is already showing that his desire and ability to improve will eventually turn him into a even more dynamic player.

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