Vikings GM: 'No issues' with Harvin


Vikings GM: 'No issues' with Harvin

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman said Thursday the organization has no concerns about Percy Harvin's character or attitude with a pivotal offseason ahead for the wide receiver's future with the Vikings.

Harvin, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, badly sprained his left ankle on Nov. 4 at Seattle and didn't play again. The Vikings placed him on the season-ending injured reserve list a month later.

Spielman sidestepped a question about whether the Vikings will initiate talks about an extension for Harvin. He said the front office must complete its full evaluation of every player on the roster before decisions on who to keep.

``Percy comes to work every day. Everybody sees what Percy puts on the field,'' Spielman said during an interview session with reporters. ``He plays the game as hard, or harder, than anyone else in the NFL, the effort that he puts up out there. So we have no issues with Percy Harvin.''

Players don't normally land on injured reserve one month after suffering ankle injuries, but the Vikings have said the move was not based on any motive beyond his unavailability to the team.

``It's something that we felt was best for Percy. We didn't want to ruin any long-term or longevity issues and put him out there if he wasn't going to be able to play and risk further injury,'' Spielman said, adding: ``I think our medical staff is the best in the business in the NFL, and ... we're going to listen to what they have to say and make the decisions from there.''

Harvin went home to Florida for his rehabilitation after he was placed on injured reserve, but coach Leslie Frazier downplayed his absence, noting that others have often chosen to do the same. Harvin also made waves last summer when he expressed unhappiness with the organization and requested a trade, but by the time training camp arrived he had simmered down.

He started playing like a Most Valuable Player award candidate, leading the league in total yards (receiving, rushing and returning) through nine games until he was hurt. Harvin still led the team in receptions (62) and yards receiving (677) despite playing barely half of a season, and he had a kickoff return for a touchdown as well as 96 yards rushing and one score on the ground.

With an offense revolved around NFL rushing leader Adrian Peterson, who carried the ball 348 times in 2012, the second-most in franchise history, there's a question about whether Harvin can touch the ball enough to be happy and fully effective with his unique skill set. But Spielman said the Vikings want both of them on the field together.

``There are guys that are blue-chip receivers and blue-chip running backs that do coexist in this league. My job is to try to find those guys and get as many of those type players on the field for us as possible,'' said Spielman, who finished his first season as the general manager, a promotion from his previous post as vice president of player personnel.

Harvin, though, will be expensive to keep past 2013 if the Vikings consider him part of their future core. They already have Peterson, linebacker Chad Greenway and center John Sullivan under long-term, pricey contracts, so the salary cap is an important part of the equation in Harvin's status, particularly if the Vikings plan to use some of that room on free-agent upgrades for some of the holes remaining on their roster.

``He's built like a smaller running back. He's not built like a typical, leaner receiver. We believe he does have the durability to do what he needs to do and to play 16 games in the NFL,'' Spielman said.

The Vikings have often finalized extensions for key players before they reach the last year of their deals, but they didn't do any of those during the 2012 season. Spielman said, however, the lack of action didn't signal a shift in philosophy.

``We've talked to some agents. We've talked to some agents before the season, and sometimes we'll just say, `Let's wait until the season ends,''' Spielman said.

Now the season is over, and the Vikings are approaching a significant dilemma with Harvin, particularly since trades in the NFL are difficult to consummate, given cap constraints and the preciousness of draft picks.

On other subjects:

- Spielman said the Vikings will try to re-sign Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton and even wide receiver Jerome Simpson, whom he said ``has the potential to really thrive'' despite an underwhelming first season with the team hampered by a three-game suspension and an injury to his lower left leg.

- Cornerback Antoine Winfield will be 36 next season, and defensive tackle Kevin Williams will be 33. Both will count heavily against the salary cap, too, but Spielman acknowledged the importance of factoring in experience and leadership when deciding whether to bring them back. ``If you don't have all those high-character guys down in that locker room, it could very easily have gone the other way,'' Spielman said of the 10-6 season.

- The Vikings several players to reserve/future contracts this week, including punter T.J. Conley, who kicked for the New York Jets in 2011. But Spielman said that's part of the typical offseason process, not a sign of disinterest in bringing Chris Kluwe back.


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Wizards and Hawks pay tribute to Kobe Bryant with 8- and 24-second violations to begin game

Wizards and Hawks pay tribute to Kobe Bryant with 8- and 24-second violations to begin game

Emotions were very raw on Sunday as the Wizards and Hawks played a game in Atlanta, just hours after the passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

Players and coaches wiped back tears during a pregame tribute, as shown on the NBC Sports Washington broadcast. And as the game began, the two teams honored his jersey numbers with an eight-second and 24-second violation.

The Hawks held the ball after tip-off for eight seconds without crossing halfcourt and then the Wizards held the ball for 24 seconds to run out the shot clock. After each team did their part, they resumed play.

Bryant's impact was felt across sports and all over the world. His legacy is particularly strong among the current generation of NBA players due to the fact he was in his prime when many of them were kids.

Hawks point guard Trae Young also began the game wearing a No. 8 Hawks jersey. Soon after the game started, he switched to his normal No. 11 uniform.

Many players tweeted their condolences before taking the floor. And the Wizards released a statement on his passing.

Bryant, 41, passed away in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. Other passengers also perished, though their identities have not been confirmed.

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Lamar Jackson wins Pro Bowl Offensive MVP as AFC beats NFC

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Lamar Jackson wins Pro Bowl Offensive MVP as AFC beats NFC

The Ravens were the most represented team at the Pro Bowl, so it was only fitting two of the biggest contributors were from Baltimore, too. 

Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews combined for three touchdowns as the AFC beat the NFC 38-33 in the Pro Bowl on Sunday in Orlando. 

Jackson was named Pro Bowl Offensive MVP in just the first Pro Bowl of his young career. 

In addition to the 12 players that were selected from the NFL’s top regular season team, the AFC was coached by Baltimore’s coaching staff. 

Mourning Kobe Bryant

The Pro Bowl’s priority in the grand scheme of things took a backseat Sunday afternoon after NBA legend Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash in California. He was 41 years old.

Ravens players tweeted their condolences after news of his death broke and the sports world slowed to honor Bryant.

Jackson was interviewed by ESPN’s Lisa Salters during the game, where he spoke highly of Bryant’s career. 

"That's a legend, man,” Jackson said. “He did so much for the game of basketball. A lot of people looked up to Kobe Bryant, including myself. From what I heard, he was a great person as well. My prayers are with his family."

Lamar Starts

The second-year quarterback had a strong outing in his first ever Pro Bowl appearance. 

Jackson finished 16-of-23 for 185 yards through the air with two touchdowns and an interception. He added six yards on the ground on just two carries. 

His two touchdown passes were tied for a game-high as he played for a majority of the first half. 

For his day, he won Pro Bowl Offensive MVP. It almost assuredly won’t be his only MVP from the 2019 season. 

Other Ravens In Action

But it wasn’t just Jackson that saw the field for the Ravens. 

Andrews finished the game with a game-high nine receptions for 73 yards -- a team high. He also caught a touchdown pass from Jackson in the second quarter. 

Mark Ingram led all players on the ground with 31 yards on five carries, with the help of three of his offensive linemen: Ronnie Stanley, Marshal Yanda and Orlando Brown Jr. 

Defensively, Marlon Humphrey had three tackles, Earl Thomas had two and Matthew Judon added one as well. 

Late in the fourth quarter, Thomas intercepted a pass on the Pro Bowl’s new onside kick rule, which replaces a standard onside kick with a 4th-and-15 play. Thomas then lateraled the ball to Humphrey, who pitched it to Judon before the play was whistled dead.

Justin Tucker added a first half 50-yard field goal, too, as the Ravens made sure they were well-known at the Pro Bowl.