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Updated: September 6th, 2010 5:27pm
Notebook: Issues and all, Percy Harvin says he's ready for expanded role

Notebook: Issues and all, Percy Harvin says he's ready for expanded role

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Percy Harvin knows the Minnesota Vikings may need him everywhere this season.

Not just on kick returns. Not just in the slot.

In his second NFL season, Harvin expects to take on punt return duties at some point and also play extensively as an outside receiver, helping to fill the void left by Sidney Rice's hip surgery.

"I'm happy about it," Harvin said of playing outside.

"My eyes get wide. I always don't have to go down there and worry about defensive backs, safeties and linebackers. I get to go out there, play in a little more space. So, to me, there's nothing else better."

Harvin had 60 receptions for 790 yards and six touchdowns last season, but he did a lot of his damage on manufactured touches -- quick slants, bubble screens and other plays designed to get the ball into his hands easily.

Playing outside will expand the volume and complexity of his route running, which wasn't detailed in his rookie season but didn't stop him from making explosive plays.

"There's just a lot more space I can play in," said Harvin, who probably will continue moving inside when the Vikings use extra receivers on third downs.

"The more space I have, the better I am."

Harvin also scored twice on kick returns as a rookie, and the Vikings are hoping his acumen will transfer to punt returns -- something he did sparingly at the University of Florida and hasn't done in the NFL.

The Vikings traded punt returner Darius Reynaud to the New York Giants on Friday and plan to go with Bernard Berrian and/or Greg Camarillo in Thursday's opener in New Orleans.

Once Harvin has enough time to get comfortable judging punts in the air -- he's missed substantial time because of the death of his grandmother and migraine headaches he believes doctors now have under control -- he'll get a shot to make an impact in that phase, too.

"I was drafted to this team to do whatever I can to help this team win," Harvin said. "If me needing to do punt returns give us a better chance to win, then I'm all for it."

Griffin recuperating

Cornerback Cedric Griffin said he experienced no trouble with his reconstructed knee in two practices running with the Vikings' scout team, but he wouldn't speculate about when he might return.

"I've been training pretty hard, man," Griffin said. "When they put me on the (active) PUP list, they had me doing all the offseason workout drills and the running drills and lifting weights and stuff like that. My body's fine. I always had good wind, so that's never problem. I really feel good right now."

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier wouldn't even rule out Griffin for Thursday night, although that remains a long shot less than 7½ months after surgery.

"The fact that he's out here practicing gives us some hope," Frazier said, "and so we're just trying to ascertain over the next couple of days, is it a real possibility? So, we're going to give it another day and just see how he does (Tuesday), but he has already done far more than we expected when we decided to put him on the 53."

Fast almost over

Safety Husain Abdullah's Ramadan fast ends at sundown on Thursday, but he doesn't plan to chow down on a big meal right before kickoff.

"I did that in high school," Abdullah said. "It wasn't good."

Abdullah, who is Muslim, said his weight stayed consistently around 200 pounds the past month thanks to a diet plan designed by a team nutritionist. Last year, it dropped to around 192 before the fast ended.

That's good news for the Vikings, who may need a significant contribution from Abdullah on Thursday. They only have three healthy cornerbacks, meaning Abdullah could end up getting subpackage work in the slot.

"If they need me to go out there and cover," Abdullah said, "I'm going to go out there and cover."

Quick hits

• Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said the conditioning of C John Sullivan "has looked good" despite missing the entire preseason with a calf injury. "He's done things on the side, whether it's in the pool, whether it's with (head athletic trainer) Eric Sugarman, to keep his conditioning up," Bevell said. "But it's a matter of loading it up and making sure that it will hold up under 65 or 70 plays a game, all the way up to 90 plays."

• RE Jared Allen said the defense won't try to avenge the Saints' questionable hits on Brett Favre in January by doing the same to Drew Brees. "We were hitting him last year," Allen said. "We were doing it a little more on the legal side, so to speak ..."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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