How much pounding can Percy take?

Last year, the cry was for more playing time for Percy Harvin. This year, the concern is he is taking a beating. So how much more time is Harvin seeing, how has it affected his production and where do the coaches stand on his usage?

The tide has turned on the great Percy Harvin debate.

During the offseason, the mantra outside the organization was that Harvin needed to see the field more. His explosiveness was well-chronicled and unquestioned, and keeping him on the field more would benefit an offense desperately seeking that trait.

Last year, Harvin played in 58 percent of the offensive snaps. That has changed dramatically in 2012, but with more snaps and Harvin's reckless disregard for his body when he has the ball in his hands, the question now becomes how to make sure he stays healthy enough for the stretch run at the end of the season.

"Whether we can protect him or not, the way he plays, he plays, as you know, 100 miles per hour. So if you give it to him two times in a game, those two times they're going to be full tilt," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "That's how he plays and that's what you appreciate about him.

"We'll always be conscious of how we are using him and trying not to overuse him, but when you have a talent such as his, you want to utilize his abilities – there's no question about it. But we are mindful of his physique and what we asking him to do."

Harvin is only 5-foot-9, but he is a well-built 184 pounds and trimmed weight in the offseason to improve his explosiveness. The results are undeniable.

He leads the league with 49 catches and is seventh with 549 yards. With 62 targets, his catch percentage of 79 is highest among the top 20 wide receivers, as is his 8.47 average yards after the catch.

The Vikings continue to use him as much as ever. After being used in 58 percent of the offensive snaps last year, he hasn't come close to playing that little this year in a single game. He started the season by playing 80 percent of the snaps against Jacksonville, then 77 against Indianapolis. In the last four games, he has played in 67 percent against San Francisco, 76 against Detroit, 65 against Tennessee and 76 against Washington.

He entered Sunday's game against Washington with a hamstring injury that limited him in practice last week, but downplayed it when asked Monday.

"I'm all good," he said. "I'm no sorer than anybody else. Wednesday I'll be ready to go."

Still, Harvin could be seen stretching his ailing left leg on a board on the sidelines and using a roller to massage it at other times. Yet, when it comes to talking about his health, Harvin embraces the tough-guy persona as well as anyone.

"This is the best I have felt in a while. Nah, I'm a little sore, but no sorer than anybody else," he said. "I've got two days off. I'll be ready to go Wednesday."

No doubt the Vikings are tantalized by his effort and his production, which appears to be growing exponentially with his increased usage.

In his rookie season, the most catches he had in a game was seven, the final game of the regular season. The previous week, he set a personal best with 101 yards receiving. In 2010, his single-game high for catches was nine and he had three 100-yard games receiving. Last year, he had two games with 10 catches and another game in which he had 156 yard receiving.

This year, Harvin already has games with 12 (Indianapolis) and 11 (Washington) catches, both losses, and he has three 100-yard games. His 133 yards receiving Sunday is second in his career only to his 156-yard effort against Denver last year.

He is also on a pace for 130 catches and 1,440 yards, and numerous hits that take an untold – in Harvin's case, they truly are untold – toll on his body.

"We're going to always try to do what's best for the team, and what's best for the team is to have Percy on the field. That's obvious," Frazier said. "His style of play is not going to change. So we're going to utilize his talents to the fullest and be conscious of how we use him when we do have him on the field. But to say that we're going to use him less or use him in different ways, I can't stand here today and say that's going to be the case.

"We all know that injuries are a part of the game. We're going to try to protect him as much as we can. But at the same time, the way he plays, his style of play, it's no different for a lot of our guys – they're going to play 100 miles per hour and play full tilt. That's what keeps you from getting injured at times, rather than try to play not to get injured."

The pounding on Harvin is increased by his exposure in other aspects of the game.

In addition to his league-leading receiving prowess, he is also used in the backfield (he has 15 rushes for 63 yards) and on kickoff returns (12 for 445 yards and a 37.1-yard average that leads the league by more than 5 yards).

Eventually, the high usage and high-impact style might catch up to Harvin, but he seems to relish the giant workload and trust the coaches to find the right mix.

"We'll do the best we can to preserve him, but not at the expense of our trying to win and trying to do the right things by him," Frazier said. "He's a very, very valuable piece to our team and it shows up every Sunday, but we are mindful of some of the hits that he takes."


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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So if you give it to him two times in a game, those two times they're going to be full tilt,\" Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. \"That's how he plays and that's what you appreciate about him. \"We'll always be conscious of how we are using him and trying not to overuse him, but when you have a talent such as his, you want to utilize his abilities – there's no question about it. But we are mindful of his physique and what we asking him to do.\" Harvin is only 5-foot-9, but he is a well-built 184 pounds and trimmed weight in the offseason to improve his explosiveness. The results are undeniable. He leads the league with 49 catches and is seventh with 549 yards. With 62 targets, his catch percentage of 79 is highest among the top 20 wide receivers, as is his 8.47 average yards after the catch. The Vikings continue to use him as much as ever. After being used in 58 percent of the offensive snaps last year, he hasn't come close to playing that little this year in a single game. He started the season by playing 80 percent of the snaps against Jacksonville, then 77 against Indianapolis. In the last four games, he has played in 67 percent against San Francisco, 76 against Detroit, 65 against Tennessee and 76 against Washington. He entered Sunday's game against Washington with a hamstring injury that limited him in practice last week, but downplayed it when asked Monday. \"I'm all good,\" he said. \"I'm no sorer than anybody else. Wednesday I'll be ready to go.\" Still, Harvin could be seen stretching his ailing left leg on a board on the sidelines and using a roller to massage it at other times. Yet, when it comes to talking about his health, Harvin embraces the tough-guy persona as well as anyone. \"This is the best I have felt in a while. Nah, I'm a little sore, but no sorer than anybody else,\" he said. \"I've got two days off. I'll be ready to go Wednesday.\" No doubt the Vikings are tantalized by his effort and his production, which appears to be growing exponentially with his increased usage. In his rookie season, the most catches he had in a game was seven, the final game of the regular season. The previous week, he set a personal best with 101 yards receiving. In 2010, his single-game high for catches was nine and he had three 100-yard games receiving. Last year, he had two games with 10 catches and another game in which he had 156 yard receiving. This year, Harvin already has games with 12 (Indianapolis) and 11 (Washington) catches, both losses, and he has three 100-yard games. His 133 yards receiving Sunday is second in his career only to his 156-yard effort against Denver last year. He is also on a pace for 130 catches and 1,440 yards, and numerous hits that take an untold – in Harvin's case, they truly are untold – toll on his body. \"We're going to always try to do what's best for the team, and what's best for the team is to have Percy on the field. That's obvious,\" Frazier said. \"His style of play is not going to change. So we're going to utilize his talents to the fullest and be conscious of how we use him when we do have him on the field. But to say that we're going to use him less or use him in different ways, I can't stand here today and say that's going to be the case. \"We all know that injuries are a part of the game. We're going to try to protect him as much as we can. But at the same time, the way he plays, his style of play, it's no different for a lot of our guys – they're going to play 100 miles per hour and play full tilt. 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