Sunday slant: Old and young mixing well

Percy Harvin is the youngest player on the Vikings. Brett Favre is the oldest and just turned 40. Together they are making quite an efficient combination. See what both of them had to say leading up to the Rams game.

Percy Harvin is talented, no doubt about that. He's also had some good fortune following him the past six months.

Playing wide receiver, a position where few rookies seem to thrive, Harvin is making a difference early in his rookie season. He has been one of the most productive receivers among the five first-round picks at the position and he's added much more value with his return and rushing skills.

Receiver is just the label applied to Harvin because that's what he does most. He has caught 14 passes for 167 yards, with both the receptions and yardage eclipsed only by Titans receiver Kenny Britt (17 for 271) among first-round rookie receivers.

Behind Britt, the 30th overall pick, and Harvin, the 22nd overall pick, are a lineup of receivers who either haven't produced yet – like the just-signed Michael Crabtree, who will always be remember by 49ers fans for his holdout – or have averaged fewer than two catches per game.

Oakland's Darrius Heyward-Bey was the surprise pick with the seventh selection overall and has only two catches for 36 yards. Philadelphia's Jeremy Maclin was also selected before Harvin and has six catches for 45 yards. The Giants' Hakeem Nicks, picked 29th, has three receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown.

Harvin is second among all NFL rookies with his 14 receptions and his two touchdown receptions are the most of the rookies. And that's just receiving. He has 605 all-purpose yards (410 on kickoff returns, 167 receiving and 28 rushing).

Harvin, who caught Brett Favre's first touchdown pass as a Viking, admits that having Favre as his quarterback has helped the transition, despite the quarterback turning 40 on Saturday.

"He's about as good now as he ever was," Harvin said. "You won't find another guy that plays as long as he plays and still be on top of his game like he is. It's a blessing for him to still be able to play like that. That's a record that I don't think too many people will reach."

While the rest of the purple world waited and wondered if Favre would actually sign with the Vikings, despite the summer-long ups and downs in the tale, Harvin never doubted. He had inside insight after the first mentions of Favre thinking about the Vikings.

"I just said, ‘Here we go.' I think you had the speculation for a couple of months. I knew in my heart that he was going to come," Harvin said. "I was close friends with (former Packers receiver) Antonio Freeman and the whole time he told me, ‘(Favre) loves the game too much. He'll be there.' He told me that from day one.

"For me there was nothing better than to come in with a Hall of Fame quarterback in my first year. I look at some of the guys that came out with me in the draft that played for Florida and the quarterbacks they got and they'd call me after every game (and say), ‘Brett Favre? You're lucky, man!' I've just got to sit back and (realize), yeah, I am kind of blessed."

Now that Favre turned 40 on Saturday, his youngest teammate, Harvin, 21, is impressed that his quarterback has withstood the grind of the NFL – and especially the mental preparation of quarterbacks – for 19 years. That's only two years few than Harvin has been alive.

Favre received some heat from the younger players with the New York Jets last year who publicly complained that he wasn't part of the team. Shortly after Favre signed with the Vikings, one of his biggest supporters, former coach Steve Mariucci, said Favre would be a great teammate when he's in the building but would return to his family after the day is over instead of hanging out with the younger (many unmarried) players.

Favre reiterated that this week when asked about camaraderie with the younger players when talking about him turning 40.

"When we leave the building I couldn't tell you what most of the guys do, and for whatever reason that was looked at as a negative about me in the past," Favre said. "I can't speak for every guy in the locker room, but I would think that most of the guys would say everything has been fun and enjoyable. The way we work (together) has been a lot of fun, but that doesn't mean you have to go and do things (after work together). I've got a family. My reason for being here is one reason and that's to help this team win and win now. Nothing more than that, but that doesn't mean that I have to be a bad guy in the process. I would not think that that would be the case."

Harvin seems to be enjoying his time with his old/new teammate just fine, and Freeman helped give Harvin a head start with insight into what Favre looks for when on the field. So far, the young guy and the old man have been doing just fine.

Things that work: … Favre is said to play no favorites when it comes to receivers and that seems to be the case. Running back Chester Taylor has a team-high 18 receptions, but the top three wide receivers are all close behind. Bernard Berrian has 16 catches for 177 yards, Sidney Rice has 16 catches for 172 yards and Harvin has 14 for 167. That's balance.

  • … What else? The Vikings are celebrating Planet Purple Week this week, which concentrates on reducing the team's environmental impact. About 150 trees will be planted at Jenny Lind School and Bohanon Park in Minneapolis by Vikings employees (including players) on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Vikings employers and season-ticket holders will receive tips on how to be more environmentally conscious. On Friday, players and employees will take part in E85 Carpool Friday, and on Saturday QB Sage Rosenfels will be on hand at the Eden Prairie Best Buy to help collect a maximum of two unwanted electronic items per person with the first 100 customers receiving an autograph and a Vikings-branded re-usable shopping bag. On game day against the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday, the team has purchased renewable energy to offset 100 percent of the energy used to power Mall of America Field at the HHH Metrodome. They will also collect and donate all unused food from game-day concessions and suites to the hungry to cut down on waste.

  • … The NFL is working, both in the homes and in the stadiums. Television ratings are at an all-time high and all games for the weekend are sold out. So far, according to the NFL, 95 percent of games have been on TV (meaning a sellout). Five years ago that was at 89 percent, and 10 years ago it was at 86 percent. The most popular sport in America continues to grow in popularity.

  • … The Vikings could get their 400th regular-season win.

  • … Remember when the Vikings were pretty good in the Mike Tice era but struggled mightily on the road? Not anymore. If the Vikings on Sunday, it would be their sixth straight road win.

  • … Where are the Vikings' biggest statistical advantages? They are averaging 29.5 points per game compared to the Rams' 6.0 points. The Vikings have a plus-5 turnover ratio compared to the Rams' minus-4.

    Things of some concern: … It's hard to get too worked up about the 4-0 Vikings facing the 0-4 Rams, but it could set up as a "trap game.

    "I consider every game – if you want to call it a ‘trap game' or whatever – I consider every game a trap game," Favre said. "If you're not on you're A-game you can be beat by anyone, I don't care about records or anything like that. Fortunately for me I've played long enough (to realize that)."


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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