Harvin ‘busted tail' to return vs. Vikings

Jamarca Sanford remains in regular contact with Percy Harvin and had "no doubt" the receiver would return to play against his former team, the Minnesota Vikings. Sanford anticipates plenty of "smack talking" with Harvin, via text and phone conversations, throughout the week.

Timing, the saying goes, is everything.

In the case of Percy Harvin's expected return to the football field to play against his ex-team, the Minnesota Vikings, the timing couldn't be more interesting.

"I'll see what he's talking about today. I'm pretty sure he's going to (do) a little smack talking," said Vikings safety Jamarca Sanford, who remains friends and in fairly regular contact with Harvin. "We're going to get after each other, so I can't wait."

Harvin is expected to make his regular-season debut for the Seattle Seahawks Sunday after the Vikings traded him in March for first-, third- and seventh-round draft picks when it became increasingly clear that Harvin didn't want to be in Minnesota any longer.

The elusive but undersized (by NFL standards) receiver ran into the same problem in Seattle that he did in Minnesota – he had a hard time staying healthy. Harvin had offseason hip surgery that has kept him out of game action up until this point.

Sanford said he had "no doubt" in his mind that Harvin would be back on the field in time to play against the Vikings.

"If he had any chance to be back for a game, I knew it was going to be this (game)," Sanford said.

"I know he's going to be happy just to play football again. He had a pretty significant injury he dealt with, so just to be back on the field I can only imagine he's going to be pretty excited. So for me, I missed two games and it's like I'm so excited to get back. It's like football is just a place where you can get away from everything and just have fun when you can be out there with your brothers so I can't wait."

The Viking and Seahawks are a familiar bunch. In addition to Harvin, the Seahawks have several other former Vikings on their roster: quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, receiver Sidney Rice, running back Derrick Coleman, linebacker Heath Farwell and kicker Steven Hauschka. Directing many of those players is former Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who is in the same role in Seattle.

"I'm going to love it. I love going against my friends, when they're playing on the other side of the ball. I love to compete," Sanford said. "So it's just something we can talk about in the offseason, you know, whoever comes out on top. But I'm already looking forward to it. Oh, yeah. A lot of bragging rights."

Sanford said he and Harvin don't see each often, but "we always talk," about once a week.

The Vikings, of course, are well aware of what Harvin can do. Despite missing seven games last year with various injuries, Harvin led the team in receptions (62) and receiving yards (677). His most productive season was 2011, the only time in four years with the Vikings that he played in all 16 games, when he had 87 catches for 967 yards and six touchdowns.

The Vikings coaching staff doesn't have to feel cheated by the fact they don't have any film of Harvin in the Seahawks offense. They already know what he can do.

"We saw him every day at practice so we have a pretty good feel for him. That will be interesting having to go back and look at tape of us to prepare for him," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "… He's a very good player. They've got a good team. We're going to have to really play our best game we can possibly play to have a chance to be successful."

The Vikings have had trouble tackling this season, and Harvin led the league Pro Football Focus credits Harvin with causing 22 missed tackles last year, five more than the next receiver on their list.

Harvin also led the league in yards after the catch per reception, according to PFF, in his final season in Minnesota, when he averaged 8.7 yards after the catch and was credited with 542 of his 677 yards coming after the catch.

"You've just got to locate him every time. Every time he lines up, you've got to know where he's at," Sanford said. "I'm pretty sure they're going to do a great job of getting him the ball. He's one of them guys you've got to know where he's at at all times."

Sanford called Harvin's departure from the Vikings "a business decision" and credited the violence of the sport for Harvin missing 10 games over four seasons with the Vikings.

"He didn't get to where he's at today by it just being easy. He's traveled a tough road, so the little things he did up to now, it can be frustrating at times, but we play a violent game and every play you're one play away from never playing football again," Sanford said. "So I'm pretty sure he's frustrated, but he's a strong guy and I'm pretty sure he's worked and worked his tail off. We know how hard Percy works. So he busted his tail to get back for this game."

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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