Harvin's Debut Worth Watching for Vikings' Fans
Here's a look at three things to keep an eye on in the preseason opener.
Welcome To The NFL, Percy Harvin.
Harvin's speed has been on display in training camp, but more than that, there have been several encouraging reports about his readiness to contribute as a receiver. Everyone knew that Harvin was fast, but his hybrid role at Florida meant that he didn't have to worry much about some of the more mundane aspects of being a wide receiver--beating bump coverage, running precise routes and setting up cornerbacks.
But Harvin's agility has allowed him to beat bump coverage at the line, and he's shown that if he's "even, he's leavin'" when he runs a deep route. Friday night we should get a better look at what Harvin can do against zone coverage.
Who's The Leader?
Brad Childress has said that it doesn't really matter who starts at quarterback in tonight's preseason opener--both Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels will get plenty of snaps with the first team offense before he makes a decision.
But it's also fair to say that we may not really know much more about who is the better quarterback four weeks from now. If Jackson has a strong preseason, it's just more of the same for him. He has four touchdowns and no interceptions in 10 preseason games and carried a 127 quarterback rating out of training camp last year. But that just meant that he held onto the starting job for two weeks before Gus Frerotte took over.
The problem is that the remaining holes in Jackson's game--improving his accuracy and making better reads--are less important in the preseason when you're facing simplified defenses. The holes in the zones are bigger and there are less surprises.
So don't put too much into whether Rosenfels or Jackson gets a quick touchdown against the Colts. This is a competition that will likely continue into September and October unless one of the two takes a big step forward.
He's A Wide Load, But Can Loadholt Be Nimble?
Harvin may be the flashiest Vikings' rookie, but rookie right tackle Phil Loadholt is more crucial to the team's success in 2009. The Vikings need the second-round pick to become the solid right tackle that the team lacked last year. If he can do what Jeff Otah did for the Panthers as a rookie last year--maul people in the running game and be OK in pass blocking--Adrian Peterson could be flirting with 2,000 yards again.
But the question with Loadholt is whether he's quick enough to handle speed rushers coming from his outside shoulder. The Colts' battery of small, quick defensive ends should give him a good first exam.