We spent some time last month discussing the curious playing-time pattern of Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin, who caught a career-high 87 passes in 2011 despite playing on only 58.4 percent of the team's offensive snaps. Why did the Vikings have their best receiver on the sideline for more than 40 percent of their plays? How much better could their offense have been if Harvin played more?
Coach Leslie Frazier addressed that issue a few weeks ago at the NFL scouting combine, and I think it's only fair to add his thoughts to our conversation. Frazier said "the workload was probably what we could afford with him" but acknowledged he has already spoken with Harvin about keeping him "on the field a little bit longer" in 2012.
In explaining why he didn't use Harvin more last season, Frazier implied Harvin was still learning to pace himself during the course of a game in which he might line up at receiver, running back or kick returner.
"We have to find that happy medium without exposing him to injury or wearing him down," Frazier said. "He's one of those guys that goes 100 miles per hour, every snap, even when the ball is not to him. So he's different. You have to take him off the field if you want to give him a blow because he's not going to take a blow when he's on the field."
My point last month was that Harvin is too young to be on such a pitch count. He won't turn 24 until May. I'm not sure if his production would rise dramatically if he plays more in 2012 -- his 87 receptions ranked fourth in the NFL -- but he would at least force defenses to account for him more frequently.
"We have to find ways to keep him on the field, even when we're not using him and let him get his breath in between plays," Frazier said.