Sunday Notebook: Rookie respect?

A couple of young Vikings weren't getting much respect from their Pro Bowl teammates, who are requiring the youngster to prove their worth in game situations before drawing accolades.

If nothing else, you have to hand Pat Williams a blue ribbon for consistency. It doesn't matter if he's talking about a first-round pick or a young undrafted free agent, he refuses to dish the compliments for young players.

The latest example came last week when Williams was asked about wide receiver/running back Percy Harvin.

"He's just a fast guy, still young. I ain't giving no rookies no credit right now. He has to earn it," Williams said.

Apparently, Harvin's two National Championships with the Florida Gators don't transfer in the credit department to the Minnesota Vikings, or at least not in Prof. Williams' classroom.

So far, Harvin has been impressive in a number of ways. He caught long touchdown passes from both Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson during one practice last week, showcasing his deep speed. His short-area quickness is evident when taking handoffs in the backfield, whether he's line up there originally or motioning from the slot. And his explosiveness in hitting a hole shows especially clearly when watching him exploit a seam in the kickoff return game.

While Williams carries around the girth needed in the trenches, he has a quick reaction time. But even he had to admit his powers wouldn't allow him to catch Harvin from behind.

"No, I ain't running him down. He's fast, so I ain't running him down, but I ain't giving him no credit yet," said the outspoken big man.

Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson said Harvin reminds him of Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson, but Henderson said Harvin brings many more options to an offense.

"Very shifty. Can play multiple positions, get up the field. It's going to be a lot of problems for some defenses," Henderson said.

All that talk about Harvin's quickness might lead some to believe there isn't as much power to his game. Actually, the rookie is fairly well-built for a receiver – and he should be for all the time he spent running the ball at Florida. That's where rookie cornerback Asher Allen out of Georgia got a chance to experience the physical part of Harvin's game.

But Harvin said Allen – who also has been impressive with the physical nature of his game in training camp – didn't back down.

"What I remember about him is him being really feisty," Harvin said about Allen. "He'd try to walk up on me – not only me but the slots – and try to jam you, reroute you. I remember him being real feisty."

ANOTHER ALLEN

Allen the cornerback could turn out to be an impressive pro, but Allen the defensive end – as in Jared Allen – already is. Jared Allen had a Pro Bowl season last year, registering 14½ sacks in his first year with the Vikings while showing immense toughness by playing through a separated shoulder and sprained knee.

This year, Allen says he's feeling better about training camp than he did last year before all those injuries took a toll on him.

"I'm in phenomenal shape. This offseason was a good one for me. Last year with the move and everything I didn't really get all the time in I wanted with my trainers, and this year I got it all," he said.

Allen spent time getting away during the offseason, traveling overseas to visit troops in the Middle East, going to Africa with Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and traveling to Canada for a hunting trip.

Now it's back to business, and he says the defense should be better than ever. But even Allen has Pat Williams-like caution when speaking about young players.

"We got all of our starters back minus Sharp (Darren Sharper). When Madieu (Williams) was hurt, the young kid, he stepped in – and he doesn't have a name yet because he hasn't progressed that far. The rook started for a few games for us. He got some experience," Allen said. "I actually think the expectations from ourselves are higher than everybody else. We expect the world. We're trying to be No. 1. We're trying to dominate. In order to do that you gotta go out there every day on the practice field."

NOTES

  • For those wondering if Pat Williams would ever have to serve a suspension if his appeal of a four-game suspension is denied in federal court after this season, the answer is that Williams still has two years left on his contract. Let's hope the matter is resolved before the 2010 season.

  • Harvin was a big-time recruit in high school, but he sure wasn't interested in the recruiting process. He was too busy playing other sports. "If you ask (Florida coach Urban) Meyer, I was probably the worst recruit ever," Harvin said. "I didn't return calls; I didn't pay attention to anything. I knew where I was ranked, but I didn't pay any attention it. There was no pressure on me."

  • Think E.J. Henderson missed playing football after being placed on injured reserve after only four games last season? This quote from the normally reserved (off-the-field) Henderson should speak to that: "E.J. Henderson is hungry and I'm ready to get back," he said. Nearly all the defenders are talking about how much better the defense should be with Henderson back in the middle of it.


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