When to sit Harvin? That's the question

The Vikings know they can't play Percy Harvin on every offensive snap and every kickoff return, but he wasn't on the field for a couple of important turns Sunday. One of them could have been because of cramps, but the other was a coach's decision. Harvin seemed frustrated to varying degrees by each of them.

The Percy Harvin balancing act continues.

How much time on the field is enough time for the Vikings' big playmaker in the passing game and how much is too much for the receiver who plays with reckless abandon?

"That's going to be coach's decision," Harvin said. "I'm going to go until I can't go no more. I'll look to them to manage that, but I'm going."

Last year, the cry went out that Harvin wasn't getting enough playing time as the passing offense struggled. It appeared to be a justified criticism, as Harvin was only on the field for 58 percent of the offensive snaps despite being available for all 16 games for the first time in his career.

This year, Harvin has been used 78 percent of the offensive snaps, but Sunday all that work started to catch up to him. Cramps set into one of his calves in the second half and caused him to be taken out at a critical time. With the Vikings driving inside the Indianapolis 10-yard line with less than six minutes to play and down 20-6, Harvin came off the field on fourth down as trainers attended to his cramps.

He was shown shaking his head on the sideline as if frustrated he wasn't in the game, but Harvin said he was still recovering from the cramping at that time.

"Fourth quarter to win the game, who wants to be on the sideline cramping?" he said Monday. "They kind of rubbed it out when I was still trying to go back in. They wanted me to drink fluids and stuff. It's just one of those times where it's all or nothing. I wanted to be in there, so I was a bit disappointed. But we were able to score, Stevie B. (Stephen Burton) made a great play, and we moved on from it."

He said the coaches and trainers were probably trying to protect him.

But that wasn't the only time in which Harvin's availability was called into question.

At the end of the first half, the Vikings were clearly trying to get a scoring opportunity. They called timeout inside the 2-minute warning after a Colts third-down play and before Indianapolis kicked a 26-yard field goal to take a 10-6 lead.

But with field position being a key asset with less than two minutes remaining, the coaches called for Marcus Sherels to take his only kickoff return of the game instead of Harvin, who said he was "very, very" disappointed with that decision.

"I'm going to try to be back there as much as I can, especially seeing those returns. We've got a lot of good things going, the first couple ones we had," said Harvin, who had a 50-yard kickoff return in the second half. "It was a block away or a (broken) tackle away from scoring. I just want to be back there because I know it's a good opportunity to help this team go forward."

Frazier said the coaches held Harvin out from that kickoff return so he would be fresher for the 2-minute offense.

"He's one of those guys who wants to be out there. He wants to return every kick. He wants to catch every ball, wants to get the handoffs," Frazier said. "But we're the ones that have to be smart about how we use him and know that we need him, not just for this game, but many games. It's a fine line. He's so valuable to us. But we also know the way he plays, he's going to have some collisions on a regular basis. So, it's a fine line to have that balance."

Harvin said he "argued" with Frazier to return the kick but acknowledged that Frazier "wanted me fresh" for the 2-minute offense.

As it turned out, it was a short-lived 2-minute drill. After a 4-yard pass to Michael Jenkins, incompletions to Toby Gerhart and Harvin brought on the punting unit and the three-and-out actually gave the Colts enough time to score a touchdown with seven seconds remaining and take a 17-6 halftime lead.

The questions are when to give Harvin a break and how often. The coaches' decision on Sunday was to take him off a kickoff return at the end of the first half and continue to work on his cramping issues on a key fourth down in the fourth quarter.

What isn't questioned is his value to their team.

"He's off to a great start for us, no question about it. It's working just like we wanted it to when we sat down this offseason and talked about being able to utilize his strengths," Frazier said. "It is tough to take him off the field, but we have to be smart. It's a long season. He is a primary weapon for us on offense – that's obvious to opposing defenses. But we don't want to overextend him. But at the same time, we have to utilize his talents and we're trying to be judicious in doing that, but he's such a gifted guy. It's hard to have him sitting over there for any length of time. Just have to be smart as we go along."


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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\r\n\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"The Percy Harvin balancing act continues. How much time on the field is enough time for the Vikings' big playmaker in the passing game and how much is too much for the receiver who plays with reckless abandon? \"That's going to be coach's decision,\" Harvin said. \"I'm going to go until I can't go no more. I'll look to them to manage that, but I'm going.\" Last year, the cry went out that Harvin wasn't getting enough playing time as the passing offense struggled. It appeared to be a justified criticism, as Harvin was only on the field for 58 percent of the offensive snaps despite being available for all 16 games for the first time in his career. This year, Harvin has been used 78 percent of the offensive snaps, but Sunday all that work started to catch up to him. Cramps set into one of his calves in the second half and caused him to be taken out at a critical time. With the Vikings driving inside the Indianapolis 10-yard line with less than six minutes to play and down 20-6, Harvin came off the field on fourth down as trainers attended to his cramps. He was shown shaking his head on the sideline as if frustrated he wasn't in the game, but Harvin said he was still recovering from the cramping at that time. \"Fourth quarter to win the game, who wants to be on the sideline cramping?\" he said Monday. \"They kind of rubbed it out when I was still trying to go back in. They wanted me to drink fluids and stuff. It's just one of those times where it's all or nothing. I wanted to be in there, so I was a bit disappointed. But we were able to score, Stevie B. (Stephen Burton) made a great play, and we moved on from it.\" He said the coaches and trainers were probably trying to protect him. But that wasn't the only time in which Harvin's availability was called into question. At the end of the first half, the Vikings were clearly trying to get a scoring opportunity. They called timeout inside the 2-minute warning after a Colts third-down play and before Indianapolis kicked a 26-yard field goal to take a 10-6 lead. But with field position being a key asset with less than two minutes remaining, the coaches called for Marcus Sherels to take his only kickoff return of the game instead of Harvin, who said he was \"very, very\" disappointed with that decision. \"I'm going to try to be back there as much as I can, especially seeing those returns. We've got a lot of good things going, the first couple ones we had,\" said Harvin, who had a 50-yard kickoff return in the second half. \"It was a block away or a (broken) tackle away from scoring. I just want to be back there because I know it's a good opportunity to help this team go forward.\" Frazier said the coaches held Harvin out from that kickoff return so he would be fresher for the 2-minute offense. \"He's one of those guys who wants to be out there. He wants to return every kick. He wants to catch every ball, wants to get the handoffs,\" Frazier said. \"But we're the ones that have to be smart about how we use him and know that we need him, not just for this game, but many games. It's a fine line. He's so valuable to us. But we also know the way he plays, he's going to have some collisions on a regular basis. So, it's a fine line to have that balance.\" Harvin said he \"argued\" with Frazier to return the kick but acknowledged that Frazier \"wanted me fresh\" for the 2-minute offense. As it turned out, it was a short-lived 2-minute drill. 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