The Vikings don’t yet know who their primary kick returner will be this year, but if Percy Harvin has his way it will be him. Jeremy Fowler tweets that Harvin has been “lobbying hard” to win the kick return duties but the coaches are concerned about the potential for the receiver to be injured. If it’s not Harvin back there returning kicks it will likely be Lorenzo Booker.
I can certainly understand the coaching staff’s reticence to let Harvin return kicks, given his overwhelming importance to the offense (he is arguably the Vikings’ only legitimate receiving weapon). On the other hand we know how explosive Harvin can be on kick returns, and how great an advantage such a player can be in terms of field position and, if he should break one, quick scoring.
Then again, with the new kickoff rules – the ones Bill Belichick and Sean Payton think are a precursor to getting rid of kickoffs altogether – how many chances would Harvin really get anyway? Most of the time he would just be catching the ball in the end zone and downing it. Are they afraid of him hurting himself while taking a knee?
To me this whole kick returner debate seems like a non-issue. Maybe there would be a special circumstance somewhere along the line where, because of penalty, a team ended up kicking from farther back, giving the returner a chance; or maybe one game a kicker would be booting into the wind, giving a returner more of a shot. In those cases I’d say throw Harvin out there and see what happens. But otherwise I can’t see how it matters one way or another who returns kicks, when the majority of kickoffs won’t even be brought out of the end zone.