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Updated: May 30th, 2012 3:47pm
Zulgad: Percy Harvin hoping to take part in OTAs in next week or two

Zulgad: Percy Harvin hoping to take part in OTAs in next week or two

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by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson provided one of the most interesting moments of the Organized Team Activities conducted by the Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday at Winter Park.

While many of their teammates took part in the second of the 10 practice sessions the Vikings will conduct this offseason as a part of the OTAs, two of the team's top playmakers raced up a steep incline that is adjacent to the practice fields.

"We're just competing, trying to make each other better," Harvin said. "I think the first couple I won. AP kind of smiled and said, 'You know I'm trying to beat you.' I said, 'I wouldn't want it (any)other way.'"

While Peterson continues to rehabilitate his surgically repaired left knee and won't return until training camp at the earliest, Harvin is sitting out this first batch of OTA practices after undergoing minor shoulder surgery last month to clean out bone spurs.

Harvin tried to convince the Vikings coaching staff to let him take part in Tuesday's practice, but the wide receiver was told that wasn't going to happen. "I'm hoping the next week or two, definitely," Harvin said when asked about his return. "I'm pushing forward for the next few days. Hopefully next week, early week, I should know a little something more."

Harvin, who led the Vikings last season with 87 receptions for 967 yards and six touchdowns and was third on the club with 345 yards rushing on 52 carries and two touchdowns, underwent surgery in late April after he had an MRI that was done when he experienced pain while lifting weights.

Harvin said that he injured the shoulder in Week 6 or 7 of last season but was mostly able to play through it. Last season marked the first time in Harvin's three-year career that he played in all 16 games.

"A couple of those games late in the season when I was going out for a play or two it was because of the shoulder," Harvin said. "I kind of wanted to keep it a secret from you guys, but I knew it was hurting so I got it addressed in the offseason. Trying to bench press I felt it a little bit, so (they) just cleaned it out and it's all good now."

Harvin didn't have the surgery performed sooner because he rested after the season and didn't realize the extent of the problem at first. "I definitely wanted to get it out of the way so I could get up here, join the team and get this show on the road," he said.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said there was nothing in the postseason medical exam on Harvin that "indicated that he needed to have surgery."

Harvin initially was slated for surgery in early April but that had to be pushed back because of a family emergency that required his attention.

While Frazier would love to have Harvin on the field, he's also pleased to have him at Winter Park for the OTAs. After Frazier was hired as the Vikings coach following the 2010 season, he made it clear that he wanted to change a culture in which some veterans stayed away from the optional workouts.

The problem was that the NFL lockout last year wiped out the offseason program.

With teams now able to conduct workouts, Frazier has been very happy with the turnout. He said Tuesday that linebacker Chad Greenway (family situation) and defensive end Jared Allen were the only two players absent from Winter Park.

"I gave him a big hug when he showed up," Frazier said of Harvin. "He texted me Monday night, Memorial Day, because I wasn't sure what his flight schedule was going to be. He said, 'I'm in town, what doctors do I have to see tomorrow morning.' I texted him back, 'Is this the real Percy Harvin?'

"It's just great for our meetings, great for our coaches to see him around. Even though he's not able to participate in some of the drills just to have him on the side, doing the things he's doing, being in the meetings.

"He's a guy that's so well respected by our team and all the guys know how much of a playmaker he is. But he's become one of the leaders on our football team. It's great that he would be here in a voluntary situation."

Added quarterback Christian Ponder: "It means a lot for sure (for him to be here). Obviously he's not able to play right now, but he's in the meetings, he's in rehab and doing as much as he can. He's hanging around the guys. He's helping out the younger receivers. He's being vocal. We love having him here. I think it shows a lot that he's such a great team player, and he's such a great guy that he's spending his time up here when he doesn't have to be."

Harvin made it clear it should be no surprise that he's at Winter Park and taking part in meetings, while waiting to get on the field.

"I think if I remember correct, I told you guys last year at end of the season I was going to make it a point to have most of the team here," Harvin said. "I think we have 98 percent with the exception of Greenway. Other than that, most of the team is here. We're just going to grind it out all the way up until the season and hopefully get a better result than last year."

The Vikings, of course, won only three games in 2011.

"I love what I'm seeing right now but, of course, this is nothing but practice," Harvin said. "We don't have real defenders out here, we don't even have on pads yet. But as far as running drills, Jerome Simpson looks very smooth. His speed is very deceptive.

"I think him and Adrian, before I got here, they were arguing. I think Jerome got AP a couple of times in a race. He can move. We have a lot of pieces that I think we've plugged in but we'll have to wait until game day."

Simpson was the free agent wide receiver the Vikings signed from the Bengals.

While Harvin provides a threat from several places on the field, and is an outstanding slot receiver, the 6-2, 189-pound Simpson could provide the type of vertical threat the Vikings need to stretch the field. Simpson had 50 receptions for 725 yards (an average of 14.5 yards per catch) and four touchdowns in 16 games last season.

"I can't wait until he gets back so I can see some of that speed everybody's been talking about," Simpson said of Harvin. "We talked earlier. He asked me if I was running X yet. He said 'You're going to get a lot of opportunities there and we're going to make some plays happen.'"

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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