Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder gave Percy Harvin the ultimate praise on Thursday.
“He might be the best player in the NFL right now,” Ponder told the Chicago Tribune.
And those words come from a former Seminole who has running back Adrian Peterson as a teammate.
Harvin may not be the best player in the NFL this season. He may not win the MVP even though NFL.com and other publications have him in the mix. However the point is, it’s not a stretch to call him that. Even Peterson can’t deny the skill level of the player he says is the best he’s ever suited up with.
“I know talent,” Peterson told Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. “I can watch Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and see the difference.”
Peterson doesn’t mind throwing Harvin the alley-oop, but calls himself and his teammate the two best players in the league.
“There are two Jordans on this team,” Peterson said. “I’m not trying to be cocky. I’m just very confident in my abilities.”
While Peterson seems to have regained his form after suffering a torn ACL and MCL in the second-to-last game of 2011 in Washington, the versatile Harvin is on pace for a historic season as Minnesota gets set to take on those same Redskins this week.
Harvin leads the NFL in all-purpose yards (814) heading into Week 6. The fourth-year pro is projected to finish with about 2,605 all-purpose yards this season. If he does, there will be no other player in NFL history to record that many yards at a younger age than the 24-year-old. In fact, Harvin is on pace to rack up about 271 more yards than his closest competition, the St. Louis Rams’ Steven Jackson, who recorded an NFL-best 2,334 all-purpose yards in 2006 at age 23.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, only in his second season guiding the Vikings’ offense, has figured out more elaborate ways to use Harvin and make life miserable for defenses.
“Bill studied what we did a year ago, found creative ways to use him,” head coach Leslie Frazier told the Chicago Tribune. “We are putting him in places we didn’t before and letting him stay on the field a lot longer. The way we’re moving him around is making it harder for defenses to find him.”
Last season, Harvin played 58.9 percent of the offensive snaps. This season, he’s playing 72 percent. The team was reluctant to play the 5-foot-11, 184-pounder in order to keep him healthy. But the team has made it more of a priority to put its speed demon with a reported max bench of 420 pounds on the field as much as possible, and it’s paid off.
Harvin is tied for first among receivers with 38 catches that have gone for 407 yards and a touchdown. He leads the league in yards after catch with 316, which is 102 yards more than the next best receiver, Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos. Out of the backfield, Harvin has rushed 13 times for 62 yards and a touchdown. As a kickoff returner, Harvin has an NFL-best 38.3 yards per return. His 105-yard return for a score on the opening kickoff of the Vikings’ win over the Lions back in Week 4 was the fifth of his career.
Those numbers, and his versatility, illustrate how much of a headache the migraine-prone Harvin can induce on others ever since earning All-Pro and AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2009.
A lot of people laughed when Minnesota owner Zygi Wilf said his team would win the competitive NFC North before the season. Well, the Vikings (4-1) are tied atop the standings right now with the Bears, and Harvin has a lot to do with that.
Maybe he’s not “the best player in the NFL right now” as his teammate boldly said, but he is the most versatile player the NFL has seen in a long time.
Not that he says much to the media anyways, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn’t revealing anything about tight end Aaron Hernandez and whether he’ll play this week at Seattle. Hernandez was listed as “limited” in the last five practices, but he did pack for the West Coast trip.
Belichick said Hernandez “could be a game-time decision.”
“We’ll just have to see how it goes. I don’t know,” Belichick said via ESPNBoston.com.