VikingBuzz BLOG

This week's installment of news, notes, commentary and analysis with the regular season now underway.

Harvin ramping up nicely as rookie

Rookie wide receiver Percy Harvin hasn't had a true Randy Moss-style coming-out party yet, but he is certainly ramping up nicely in the early stages of his NFL career with the Vikings.

He's already made his way into the team record books:

He is the first player in the team history to score a touchdown (2 receiving, 1 kickoff return) in his first three games as a Viking. Wide receiver Sammy White (1976) held the previous rookie mark at two.

He set a team record for most kickoff returns yards after his first three games. Harvin has 385, surpassing the infamous Buster Rhymes' 308 from 1985.

He tied a team record for most touchdowns by a rookie (three) after the first three games. Moss was the only other rookie to have three touchdowns after three games.

Harvin's kickoff return of 101 yards against the 49ers ties him for the second-longest in team history, bested only by Aundrae Allison's 104-yard return on Dec. 2, 2007. Lance Rentzel also had a 101-yard return against Baltimore way back in 1965.

It will likely be only a matter of time before he adds a rushing touchdown to his repertoire of six-point contributions.

To this point the end zone-to-end zone kickoff return is the first true opportunity Harvin has had to show his home run explosiveness. As a receiver, he's mostly made possession-type catches and broke some tackles for positive yards-after-catch gains. As a ball-carrier, he still hasn't gotten he opportunity to get to the next level.

However, it should be exciting to see what he can do once he catches a ball over his shoulder downfield or gets a seam beyond the front seven on a play from scrimmage.

Harvin here because Houshmandzadeh isn't?

They say some of the best moves are the ones you don't make. That couldn't be more true perhaps in that the Vikings' failure to land coveted unrestricted free agent wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh is possibly the only reason they heightened their interest in and ultimately drafted Percy Harvin.

The Vikings have to be at least be a little thankful they did NOT land Houshmandzadeh, who has done a lot more talking off the field than play-making on the field for the Seattle Seahawks so far.

Houshmandzadeh openly criticized the Vikings' quarterback situation upon signing with the Seahawks.

He also bragged about how productive he would be in Seattle: "I just want to let everyone know that Matt Hasselbeck and I will be leading the Seahawks to the playoffs this season," Houshmandzadeh told The Sporting News in June. "And we'll be going to the Pro Bowl as a tandem. We're both going to have top-five seasons: He'll have a top-five quarterback season, and I'll have a top-five receiving season. I'll put up stats I've never had before yards-wise because they're allowing me to be a complete receiver."

Through three games thus far, Houshmandzadeh has caught 14 passes for 145 yards (10.4 avg.), with no touchdowns and one fumble lost.

Through three games thus far, Harvin has caught 12 passes for 128 yards (10.7 avg.), with two touchdowns. He's also rushed the ball five times for 28 yards (5.6 avg.) and leads the NFL in kickoff returns with 10 returns for 358 yards (35.8 avg.), including last week's 101-yard touchdown against the 49ers.

Houshmandzadeh also called out the Chicago Bears recently for not pursuing him as a free agent, yet caught just four passes for 35 yards, including a lost fumble, when they went head-to-head in Week 2.

"I was open all game," he said, per the Chicago Tribune. "They just didn't throw me the ball."

That said, the Vikings have to be delighted how things have turned out the way they have thus far. They'll gladly take Harvin's quiet demeanor and big-play contributions to the prototypical diva attitude the Seahawks have gotten from Houshmandzadeh to this point.

Perretta returning via practice squad?

According to the Idaho Statesman, former Boise State wide Vinny Perrettareceiver Vinny Perretta has been asked to join the Vikings practice squad, he said Monday.

Perretta was in training camp with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent and just missed the cut for the practice squad. He has been working out in Boise and working for The Blue, the official publication of Boise State athletics. He is scheduled to travel to Minnesota on Tuesday.

The Vikings like Perretta but were simply too deep at wide receiver to justify keeping him earlier this season. Vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman has referred to Perretta as a poor man's Wes Welker (Patriots).

Blitzes

Lost in the euphoria of the amazing Greg Lewis catch in the back of the end zone to win the 49er game is the fact that the team's other three receivers on the play - Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice and Visanthe Shiancoe - had all inexplicably cut off their routes short of the end zone.

The catch by Lewis was reminiscent of the Ahmad Rashad catch in December 1980 (nearly 30 years ago) against the Cleveland Browns when quarterback Tommy Kramer threw a Hail Mary pass to Rashad that resulted in a come-from-behind 28-23 victory and a Central Division title for the Vikings.

All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson and rookie tackle Phil Loadholt each took the blame for a blocked field goal just before the half, which turned what could have been a 16-7 lead into a 14-13 deficit.

The NFL is honoring breast cancer awareness in October. Quarterback Brett Favre is one of four Vikings who will use pink equipment during Monday's game against Green Bay at the Metrodome. Chad Greenway, Chester Taylor and Antoine Winfield are the others. Favre's wife, Deanna, is a breast cancer survivor.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that left tackle Chad Clifton's right ankle injury is improving, and the team will try to work him back into practice this week in hopes of getting him ready for the Vikings.

Clifton hurt his ankle early in the third quarter of the Packers' Sept. 20 home loss to Cincinnati, and he sat out Sunday's victory at St. Louis.

With Chad Pennington out for the season in Miami, the name of Gus Frerotte has come up as a potential veteran backup to Chad Henne with the Dolphins.

Former Vikings practice squad running back Arkee Whitlock, now with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL, ripped off a 55-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter of his team's recent loss to the Ottawa Roughriders.

Kevin Brown has been providing personnel analysis and writing about the Vikings for more than 20 years with Viking Update. Follow VU on Twitter and discuss this and other topics on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Vikings Update web site or magazine, click here.

 


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