Wildcat attack gets mixed reviews

Not everyone is a big believer in the Wildcat offense, and that included at least one Viking (before the acquisition of Percy Harvin) and another player that is being used as the Wildcat in another offense. Still, the en vogue formation is getting practice reps around the league.

When the Vikings showed various versions of the Wildcat offense during their minicamp last month, it sent a wave of excitement through the fan base reading about Percy Harvin and Chester Taylor and the various ways they could be used to creatively confuse defenses.

The direct snap to Harvin especially showcased his quickness and cunning out of the backfield. But after the Miami Dolphins debuted the offense with Ronnie Brown as the Wildcat last year, the Vikings didn't use it once in game situations. That could change this year, but the rest of the league is also working on similar plays.

Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew was one of six running backs selected in the first two rounds of the 2006 draft, a group that included Reggie Bush, Laurence Maroney, Joseph Addai and LenDale White, among others. Jones-Drew leads the group in several statistical categories, including 40 total touchdowns, 3,941 yards from scrimmage and 6,003 total yards.

With all that versatility, the next question for Jones-Drew is whether he'd like to be featured in the NFL's latest offensive trend, the Wildcat offense. The Jaguars actually practiced the formation in their OTAs. But that offensive look isn't high on Jones-Drew's list of favorite plays.

"I'm old-fashioned. Even though I'm 24 (years old), I like the old I-formation – two wide receivers, two running backs, tight end type deal," the 5-foot-7, 210-pound former UCLA running back said. "I don't like to trick people. I like to go out there and beat them handily. That's the game of football.

"It's not about tricking. It's about going out there and whipping the man in front of you."

Receiver Bobby Wade sounds like he is in wait-and-see mode when it comes to the Vikings running the Wildcat too much.

"I've been playing in Chicago, here. It's just run, run, run, dunk, play-action. Run, run, run, dunk, play-action. You don't see a lot of double-reverses. You don't see the slip screens. You don't see a lot of that," Wade said. "When you have a player like Percy, you obviously adapt your offense to that. He'll be highly capable of doing that for us. We'll find ways of getting him the ball. You'll see. I think he's very capable of getting the ball inside and outside as well. It will take a little honing of the skills and getting used to that tempo, but I think he'll be a very good player."

Before the acquisition of Harvin, Wade may have been in the same camp as Jones-Drew.

"Percy's going to be a big addition to this offense. I've never really believed in that Wildcat position, but he's a guy that's really going to be able reform that position," Wade said. "He does really well with the ball in his hands, can stretch the field, does a good job tracing the ball when it's in the air. That's exactly what we need. Not only that, but with the additions we already have, it's just going to be a lot of weapons on this offense. You're going to have to really pick your poison this year."

In Cincinnati, Andre Caldwell was used in the Bengals' version of the Wildcat in one game against Kansas City last year and he produced 34 receiving yards and 49 rushing yards.

In Dallas, running back Tashard Choice and wide receiver Patrick Crayton have gotten looks as the Wildcat.

"I like it. I have a chance to get the ball in my hands," Choice said. "They are looking at it to see how they like it. They got to have somebody who can run and throw. Most times it's a running back."

But Jones-Drew played secret agent when it came to revealing too much information.

"I can't comment on that because that's D-14 classified, but all I can tell you is that I've been working on my throwing arm," he said, having fun with the media and commenting on whether he thinks the team will incorporate the Wildcat offense this season.

Syndicated content contributed to this report.

Viking Update Top Stories