Less than 24 hours before signing a five-year contract with the Vikings, Percy Harvin was starting to wonder if he was ever going to get signed. A short time later, Harvin was hearing the screams and cheers of Vikings fans usually reserved for Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen as he left his first practice of the preseason after officially signing on the dotted line.
Harvin was all smiles as he met with the media, happy to have his holdout over and his NFL career preparing to take flight.
"It was long and frustrating, but it's good to be back out here with my teammates," Harvin said. "It's great to be back out here."
As late as Saturday morning, it appeared as though talks had hit a snag. Harvin said he had been hopeful in the days leading up to the signing, but was beginning to waver when a sudden turn in the talks turned his outlook around as quickly as he twists defenders.
"The morning it got done, I didn't think it was going to get done," Harvin said. "But it took a turn in like 20 minutes. I was able to get it done last night and fly here early this morning. I'm glad it's all over with."
Harvin said he actually looked into trying to get a late-night flight, but it was too late. He was up at 3 a.m. and on the first plane out a little after 6 a.m., at Winter Park by noon and in a position meeting at 1:15 p.m., making for a relatively hectic day.
By 2:45 p.m., he was on the practice field getting his first action in the return game. As practice wore on, it was clear that his role with the offense is going to be one that has multiple possibilities, much in the same way the Saints used Reggie Bush in his first season. He lined up in the backfield. He lined up at all three receiver spots. He went back to take kickoffs. He dropped back to take punts.
It's a lot on a guy's plate for his first day, but head coach Brad Childress said he has exhibited very good recall of the things he learned during minicamps and is not going to be held back from getting his feet wet in different disciplines.
"We're going to challenge him," Childress said. "We're not going to spoon feed him. He's got a good football I.Q."
Childress said today was something of an advantage for Harvin. The true test will be in a couple of days when he starts getting the training camp aches and pains.
"I'm sure his legs are much fresher than everybody else who has been through four practices," Childress said. "You usually ascertain (how far behind he might be) in a day or two.
For his part, Harvin said he's good to go. He has worked out with former University of Florida teammate Tim Tebow to keep his instincts sharp, staying in top condition and studying the playbook. He knows that there have been plays put in specifically designed to get him the ball in different sorts of ways – as a runner, receiver and returner. He has a lot on his plate, but doesn't seem phased by it – at least not after day one.
"I feel comfortable," Harvin said. "I'm not all the way up to speed right now, but I feel comfortable. It's the same kind of plays we did in OTAs (organized team activities). We have a great staff and a great team of veterans, so I'll have no problems catching up."
He may have avoided the holdout hazing some veterans will give first-rounders in training camp – or perhaps he's being lulled into a false sense of security – but he said that he feels at home in the offense and on special teams and is ready to contribute as quickly as possible. He might even be better with a full night's sleep.
It may have taken longer than expected to get the new weapon in the Vikings offensive arsenal on to the field, but Harvin said he's ready to go and give the Vikings everything they expected they would get when they drafted him back in April – a guy who can do a little bit of everything. That's how Harvin wants it. Where will that impact be? Even Harvin doesn't know for sure.
"Definitely a return man," Harvin said. "I'll play slot, a little bit in the backfield, in motion, (catching) screens and some of the reverses. I'm looking to be all over."
He sure was on Sunday.
Harvin ready to make his mark
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