Harvin hasn't sat out of a full game yet this season, but he missed the second half of the Oct. 23 Green Bay game after taking a shot to the ribs. It was a game in which the Vikings had already made Bernard Berrian inactive, leaving them shorthanded at receiver.
It's a balancing act for the coaching staff to have Harvin practicing, getting familiar with the weekly game plan and more familiar with rookie quarterback Christian Ponder, but also making sure they aren't taxing their multi-dimensional playmaker too much outside of game conditions.
"The more turns we get with him, the better rapport that gets established between he and Christian," offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. "We saw a little bit of that. We scraped the surface there in Charlotte with Christian finding him a couple times on crucial downs – not just third downs but also hitting him on some shallow crosses. We're hoping that Percy can continue to line up and be there. We know we need him terribly."
Harvin leads the team with 31 receptions, is tied for the team lead with 43 targets, and is second with 19 rushes. He also has returned nine kickoffs.
In the first meeting against Green Bay, with the Vikings building a 17-13 halftime lead, Harvin was targeted three times for two catches. But after sitting out the second half of that game because of his rib injury, those three targets represented the second-fewest times he was targeted all season.
With the unique way Musgrave uses Harvin as a runner, receiver and blocker, it no doubt limited the coordinator's play-calling options, or at least the effectiveness of those calls, when Harvin was sidelined.
"We have different personnel groups that don't include Percy. We don't want to run him into the ground either, so we try to find that gentle balance where he can be effective but not wear him down to a nub," Musgrave said. "It's always better to have him on the field. He's a tremendous weapon for us and he's so dynamic."
The Vikings haven't necessarily come to a conclusion about how many snaps Harvin should get on offense, but Musgrave indicated that Michael Jenkins and Devin Aromashodu are built for more snaps.
"We definitely want to have (Harvin) in there at least three out of every four snaps so that we can utilize him, and also he's tough for the defense to deal with even when he doesn't get the ball," Musgrave said.
In addition, the Vikings would like to use him to return kicks. Despite Lorenzo Booker and Marcus Sherels having kickoff returns of more than 65 yards each, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer isn't tempted to eliminate Harvin from the kickoff-return mix.
"No way. Would you be?" Priefer said with a smile. "No way. He's too special."
Especially considering Harvin's 31.1-yard return average and that he's the only one of the three returners with a touchdown.
But there was a bit of good news for the Vikings this week. Upon returning from the bye week, Harvin is feeling as good as he has in a long time and it's showing.
"Just hearing him talking and walking these two days of practice, he looks, man, as fresh as he did when we came to training camp," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "He looks great and that's good for our football team."
LETTER TO Dayton
The Vikings made public a letter the team sent to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday, summarizing the state of the stadium solution. Much of the letter reviewed the twists and turns in the saga, but owners Zygi and Mark Wilf reiterated what Zygi told the Associated Press on Thursday – the Arden Hills site would produce the biggest investment from the Vikings.
"The Vikings' private investment of more than $400 million is specific to the Arden Hills location because of the opportunities that exist with that site. Any other location would not justify anywhere near the level of commitment we have made in Arden Hills," the Wilfs wrote in the letter. "By building at this site, the State can leverage the maximum amount of private dollars toward this publicly-owned project, clean up the largest Superfund site in Minnesota, and improve roads in the region that need attention and will benefit the entire State."
The letter was also sent to Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers, Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, Senator Julie Rosen, Representative Morrie Lanning, Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chair Ted Mondale, Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett and Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.