If Adrian Peterson is unable to play this Sunday, it’ll be Toby Gerhart who steps into the starting RB role and will shoulder much of the burden typically handled by the NFL’s best RB. While obviously no one wants to see Peterson miss a game, Vikings fans should be anxious to see what Gerhart – selected by the Vikings with a 2nd-round pick in 2010 – can do in a prominent offensive role.
But there’s also another dynamic to the Vikings offense which should be grabbing the attention of Vikings followers – Percy Harvin’s increasing opportunities and production. Yes, Gerhart is the “next man up” in a scenario where Peterson doesn’t play, but the trend in the Vikings offense also tells you that Harvin is poised to see an increased role.
Even with Peterson in the lineup, Harvin’s opportunities have increased over the last 4 games. Here are the number of touches-yards-TDs (not including kickoff returns) Harvin has had since Christian Ponder made his first start on October 23 against the Green Bay Packers: 4-23-0; 8-77-1; 9-70-0; 11-94-1. Also, the number of times he’s been targeted in each game as not declined: 3;5;8;8.
It’s clear that getting Harvin more involved in the offense has been a priority of the Vikings since Week 7, and that effort has even increased coming out of the team’s bye in Week 9. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier spoke on this subject Monday, following his team’s loss to the Raiders in a game in which Harvin had 11 touches for 94 yards and 1 TD.
“One of the things coming out of the bye, is we wanted to come up with more ways to get Percy the football,” Frazier explained. “That’s what we have been trying to do and that’s what we wanted to do yesterday. The fact that Adrian wasn’t in the ball game created more opportunities for Percy, being such a focal point of our offense. But that’s one of the things we want to be able to do; get the ball in Percy’s hands in a variety of ways.”
Being productive in a variety of ways is the strongpoint of Harvin’s skill set. In 2009 as a rookie, Harvin established the Vikings record for the most combined yards with 2,081 (1,156 kickoff returns, 790 receiving, 135 rushing). Then in 2010, Harvin finished 2nd in the NFC and 5th in the NFL with 1,908 combined net yards.
Whether on ground or in the air, Harvin is a dynamic playmaker who will take pressure off of Gerhart should he take over for Peterson in the short-term.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin, Toby Gerhart
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 60 Comments »