New receivers will have plenty of opportunity

In replacing Percy Harvin, the Vikings lost a lot of production and snaps played, but Michael Jenkins played a big role in the offense, too. Those two losses will leave plenty of opportunities for the Vikings' new receivers.

When it comes to the X's and O's of the Vikings offense, in addition to replacing Percy Harvin, the Vikings offense will have plenty of opportunities available left by plays that Michael Jenkins used to fill.

Both Harvin and Jenkins aren't going to be members of the 2013 Vikings by the team's choice. Harvin was traded. Jenkins was released. But when it came to who was on the field when the Vikings had the ball on offense, Jenkins was the man on the field more than anyone else. The fact the Vikings were able to win down the stretch without Harvin against teams like Green Bay and Houston proved that they could win without him – which may have been a motivating factor that convinced the Vikings that trading Harvin was in their own best interests.

For the purposes of breaking down the numbers, only six wide receivers saw the field for the Vikings in 2012. In reality, it was only five, because Jarius Wright didn't see the field until after Harvin went down. These are the six wide receivers who played for Minnesota in 2012 and their game-by-game percentage of offensive plays in which they were on the field.

Percy Harvin – 80-77-67-76-65-76-60-80-63-0-0-0-0-0-0-0

Michael Jenkins – 80-91-55-55-57-87-40-65-67-66-62-75-53-56-70-70

Devin Aromashodu – 42-49-49-9-58-60-4-0-22-19-39-20-40-17-32-38

Stephen Burton – 19-13-13-0-22-14-29-22-0-29-21-22-28-29-0-0

Jerome Simpson – 0-0-0-83-35-0-73-100-65-57-44-71-28-58-69-57

Jarius Wright – 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-43-62-49-40-39-31-57

What jumps off the page isn't so much that Harvin was on the field so consistently – never less than 60 percent of his team's plays in any game – but how much Jenkins and, to a lesser extent, fellow former Viking Devin Aromashodu were. While Aromashodu's reception numbers (11 catches) didn't reflect well on the amount of time he was on the field, it does point to plays that rookie Cordarrelle Patterson can be on the field in 2013 … and you can bet he will get more than 11 catches if he's on the field 40 percent of the time. Jenkins' numbers should easily be matched or surpassed by Greg Jennings. Given the number of plays Simpson was on the field when healthy, his role in the offense is set.

The wild card could be Wright. Until Patterson carves his own niche in the offense, Wright is likely to keep his role in the passing offense as the slot receiver that replaces Harvin until a more viable option arrives.

The consensus view in the 2013 offseason has been that the Vikings offense needs to replace Harvin. The simple fact is that you don't replace one of the rare breed of NFL players who can tilt a game with one huge play that can arrive at any time, on any play. They're rare and they get paid well. Harvin is being paid well in Seattle, but his role in the Vikings offense needs to be filled.

However, when it comes to the number of plays that Christian Ponder and the Vikings offense put in on the field during game days, the new Vikings need to replace Jenkins and Aromashodu almost as much as Harvin. In those terms, Jennings and Patterson are a huge upgrade and reason for optimism in the Vikings passing game in 2013.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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.

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