Notebook: Harvin has speed to burn

Percy Harvin's speed is becoming a little more valuable each week, and last week, despite battling the after-effects of migraine headaches, Harvin vaulted past a field of wannabe tacklers and went 101 yards for a touchdown on a kickoff return. So, is Harvin being the fastest Viking? A few teammates weigh in on that and Harvin talks about the return.

Brett Favre is getting the acclaim for an incredible last-minute drive to give the Vikings a 27-24 win over San Francisco, but there was another score that was needed to get the Vikings in position that had nothing to do with the 39-year-old quarterback.

That accomplishment belonged to the 21-year-old Percy Harvin when he returned a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown to give the Vikings a 20-17 lead late in the third quarter.

"After I made my first cut, I saw there was just one defender. He was kind of aiming not to let me get to the outside," Harvin said. "The blocker did a great job of washing him to the outside. Once I hit the gap I knew I was gone."

Fans are finding out that it doesn't take much of a gap to get Harvin in position to break off a long gain, especially in the kick-return game, where the combination of Harvin's speed and the possibility of breaking one or two tackles can leave only a kicker between him and the end zone.

That sort of a matchup isn't fair. Harvin says he knows there are people in the NFL that can keep up with him, he just hasn't faced them yet.

"I don't think I went against any of them. I knew there was some great ones out there that could run, but I haven't been against anybody," he said. "Of course, me being a competitor, I'm going to say I'm the fastest one anyway."

Wide receiver Sidney Rice doesn't know how to handicap the speed on the team. He sees plays like that from Harvin and is ready to crown him the sprint champion of the Vikings. Then running back Adrian Peterson turns a corner and Rice isn't so sure he couldn't beat Harvin.

"Him and A.D. I have yet to choose one. A.D. can run, man," Rice said, recalling some proof a couple weeks ago. "I watched Percy and he ran a post route. I was like, man, he's definitely the fastest on the team. The very next day I seen Adrian run around and he hit the curve and just turned it on. I was like, I don't know, it might be Adrian now. It's kind of tough to choose. I know both of those guys have tremendous speed and they're hard workers."

Cornerback Benny Sapp heard the locker room conversation and immediately stuck up for his defensive backs, citing Cedric Griffin's speed.

"I'm going to keep it real. The fastest one on the team is Cedric Griffin, straight up," Sapp said, and Rice allowed that Griffin is probably top three on the team.

"Percy is going to be straight that first 60, but after 60 …" Sapp said, offering other possibilities like wide receivers Bernard Berrian and Jaymar Johnson.

But it was Harvin's explosiveness in Sunday's game that caught the attention of many. He looked like he wanted to break his kick return to the outside left, but when a seam opened up in the middle of the field, the rabbit exploited it and put more room between him and the hunters the further down the field he got.

"That's Percy. You know Percy has that speed," Rice said. "Strong legs, and if he sees a hole you know he's going to hit it. He made his move, came back around and went untouched 101 yards. That's just not taking anything from Percy, but also got to give credit to the kickoff return team as a whole. Percy made his reads and once he got even, I knew he was leavin'."

That return has helped vault Harvin into the league lead for kickoff return average at 35.8 yards. The next closest is Green Bay's Jordy Nelson at 31.0 yards, and Harvin is the only one to have a kickoff return for a touchdown.

"It's a great achievement. We've got a long way to go," Harvin said of leading the league. "Like I said, I don't look at things like that. My main priority is getting the offense on the short side of the field so they can do what they do and we take great pride in that. And special teams this year, we're helping the offense start on the short side of the field."

FEELING THE EFFECTS

Harvin said he was still feeling the effects of the migraine headaches that kept him away from practices last week.

"I was a little drained. I got a little light-headed during the game, but when you're out there playing football you try to block those things out," he said. "I did have a headache, was a little drowsy, got a little tired at times, but like I said I try not to let that affect me."

The noise in the Metrodome for the home opener probably didn't help.

"Man, it was crazy, especially the last play of the game. That seemed like a Super Bowl or national championship. It was real electrifying," Harvin said. "Brett showed you why he's a Hall of Famer.

NOTES

  • The Packers still aren't sure whether or not offensive tackle Chad Clifton will play on Monday night.

    "There is a chance, and really the plan for Chad Clifton is just to see how he goes through the rehab (Thursday)," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. "There needs to be some type of testing before he practices. He has improved every day, but just like I said the other day, if Chad doesn't practice, he won't play."

  • The Vikings have dropped from No. 1 overall to No. 3 in the NFL power rankings from Scout.com's Adam Caplan. "The offensive line is clearly no better than average and the defense isn't nearly as solid as last season," Caplan wrote about the Vikings. "Still, this is a solid team, but they must improve a little on both sides of the ball in order to get deep into the playoffs.

  • Harvin jumped to No. 2 from No. 4 in the rookie rankings from Scout.com's Chris Steuber. "Harvin displayed his game-breaking ability last week when he returned a kickoff for a 101-yard TD. He's also improving each week as a WR," Steuber wrote.

  • Vikings Hall of Fame safety Paul Krause will be have his custom chopper, the "Interceptor," on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on Oct. from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern. The bike is signed by more than 100 Hall of Famers. The event is free.


    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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