2013 DRAFT GUIDE
Vikings bursting bubbles on screen pass to Harvin

By DAVE CAMPBELL - AP Pro Football Writer
    2012-10-10 17:11

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - Percy Harvin took his place in the slot position, 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage and just off the right tackle. The Minnesota Vikings faced third-and-5 from the Tennessee 10, looking to put the game away late in the third quarter.

The Titans knew exactly what play they needed to be ready for, but Harvin still made it work for his second touchdown of the afternoon to further demoralize a struggling defense.

``They did a good job of trying to take it away, but he's Percy Harvin,'' Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder said.

The ``bubble'' screen pass to the elusive, powerful Harvin is a favorite way for the Vikings to use their most versatile player. It also creates other opportunities for the offense, forcing opponents to brace for the ``bubble'' at the risk of ignoring another player. It's another example, too, of how an effective passing game in today's NFL doesn't necessarily mean a steady stream of long downfield throws to tall, traditional-size wide receivers.

According to research by STATS, Harvin leads the NFL with 329 yards after the catch, more than 80 percent of his receiving total of 407. The next closest player is Denver's Demaryius Thomas with 270. New England's Wes Welker is third with 264. Of Harvin's 38 receptions this season, 22 have been at or behind the line of scrimmage.

New England has been especially good at this, with one of the true stars of the slot in nine-year veteran Welker.

``You get the ball to your guys in space, and you see if they can make guys miss,'' Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said, adding: ``You can throw really a low-risk pass for sometimes a significant reward. Those are always good plays in the offense where you're not trying to squeeze it in to four defenders for a 7-yard gain. You throw it to a guy who's open. He makes a guy miss and gains 14.''

That's what happened last Sunday, when Ponder pivoted right and threw perfectly parallel to the line so Harvin could catch it with a running start and avoid the risk of a fumble if he was too deep. Harvin ran four yards backward in a half-circle - hence the ``bubble'' descriptor - before planting and accelerating forward to grab the ball in the air.

He made four Titans miss badly, the first one with a slick stop-start cut at the 12 and the second one with a similar hesitation move at the 10 before banging off a third defender at the 7. The last one who had a chance, cornerback Jason McCourty, whiffed at the 3.

``He runs the ball just as hard as Adrian Peterson. He's not worried about getting tackled. He's running through arm tackles. That makes him very dangerous for the fact that usually you don't see a guy out there at receiver that has that type of power and strength to stay up,'' McCourty said.

The Vikings sure aren't ambushing anyone when they call the play.

``You hear all the defenders calling out `bubble, bubble, bubble!''' Harvin said. ``It gets a little nervous, but actually I have full confidence in my blockers.''

The widest receiver, in Sunday's case Michael Jenkins, has to clear the man covering him out of the way. Tight end Kyle Rudolph, who lined up outside of Harvin and has the most important job on this play, has to stay square in front of the defender he's trying to block to give Harvin the option of darting to either side. Also, the tackle on the side of the throw has to keep the defensive end from reaching too high so he can bat down the ball. Detroit did that with Cliff Avril the week before. The Lions were all over Harvin, actually, holding him to three catches for 22 yards. One of them went for a 2-yard loss.

``Rudolph, he comes to me repeatedly before the game or during practice, letting me know that I shouldn't have anything to worry about,'' Harvin said. ``Just run my bubble as fast as I can, and he's going to handle it.''

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said he only called the ``bubble'' screen pass once against Tennessee, though the Vikings practice it often. They can run the ball out of the same formation or, if the defense overcommits to take the sideways throw away, use an underneath shovel pass to Harvin instead. The Titans were in a zone coverage for that play on Sunday, a scenario in which Ponder is not supposed to send the ball Harvin's way.

``Rudolph was so confident that he could dominate that block that he wanted Christian to throw it no matter what,'' Harvin said.

These days, at 4-1, the Vikings are confident in a lot of plays. Especially the ones involving Harvin.

``He makes big plays even when you have the numbers from a defensive standpoint to make the play,'' coach Leslie Frazier said, adding: ``They had the numbers and an individual as talented as he is makes a play out of nothing.''

---

AP Sports Writers Howard Ulman in Foxborough, Mass., and Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.

---

Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Aldon SmithApr 17 09:32p

The San Francisco 49ers do not plan on releasing LB Aldon Smith this offseason. Smith is expected to be suspended at the beginning of the season, but the length [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 17 08:52p

New York Jets RB Chris Johnson (knee) said he expects to receive medical clearance to resume football activities in the near future. He underwent knee surgery in January but [ More ]

Sebastian VollmerApr 17 08:42p

New England Patriots OG Logan Mankins said OT Sebastian Vollmer (leg) has looked good this offseason while he recovers from the broken leg he suffered during the 2013 season.

Chris SneeApr 17 07:32p

New York Giants OG Chris Snee (hip, elbow) is expected to participate when offseason workouts begin next week even though he is not 100 percent.

Rolando McClainApr 17 06:02p

The Baltimore Ravens reinstated LB Rolando McClain from the reserve/retired list Thursday, April 17.

Russell AllenApr 17 05:02p

The Jacksonville Jaguars released LB Russell Allen, WR Jabin Sambrano and DEs Will Pericak and D'Aundre Reed Thursday, April 17.

Chad JohnsonApr 17 02:22p

Free-agent WR Chad Johnson (Patriots) signed with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League Thursday, April 17.

Brian CushingApr 17 01:32p

Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing (knee) was medically cleared Thursday, April 17.

LaMichael JamesApr 17 10:04a

According to a league source, the San Francisco 49ers have been shopping RB LaMichael James. He finds himself behind RBs Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and perhaps Marcus Lattimore on [ More ]

Mike BrownApr 16 11:33p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Mike Brown signed his exclusive-rights free agent deal Wednesday, April 16.

Eli ManningApr 16 11:33p

Former New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said in a radio interview this week that it is 'ludicrous' to say QB Eli Manning is declining. 'There's been no [ More ]

Sidney RiceApr 16 08:03p

The Seattle Seahawks are re-signing WR Sidney Rice to an undisclosed one-year deal Wednesday, April 16, according to sources.

Dwayne BoweApr 16 07:03p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe pleaded guilty Wednesday, April 16, after being arrested last November for marijuana possession. He pleaded guilty to lesser charges of littering and defective [ More ]

Arian FosterApr 16 04:53p

The Houston Texans may consider selecting a running back during the middle rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft that could become RB Arian Foster's backup in the future.

Chris JohnsonApr 16 04:43p

The New York Jets signed RB Chris Johnson to a two-year deal worth $8 million, with another $1 million in incentives available.

Terrelle PryorApr 16 04:33p

The Oakland Raiders hope to trade QB Terrelle Pryor before the start of the offseason program Monday, April 21.

Clay MatthewsApr 16 04:13p

Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews (thumb) said he likely will be limited during offseason workouts because of his surgically repaired thumb.

Chris JohnsonApr 16 03:53p

The New York Jets will use RBs Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory as a tandem this upcoming season and have them split carries. RB Bilal Powell will be the team's No. 3 running back.

Dan SkutaApr 16 03:33p

San Francisco 49ers LB Dan Skuta (foot) is not expected to need surgery on the foot injury that bothered him during the 2013 season. Skuta met with a foot [ More ]

Gus BradleyApr 16 02:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley watched Georgia QB Aaron Murray participate in his pro day Wednesday, April 16.

Reggie BushApr 16 02:13p

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said RBs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell likely will receive similar workloads this upcoming season than they did during the 2013 season. Bush [ More ]

Cheta OzougwuApr 16 01:53p

The Chicago Bears have waived DE Cheta Ozougwu.

Mike JamesApr 16 12:53p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Mike James (ankle) said he is happy with the progress he has made in his recovery from an ankle injury and that he has been [ More ]

Carson PalmerApr 16 12:43p

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer said he would understand if the team selects a quarterback during the 2014 NFL Draft, because he knows the team has to think about [ More ]

Josh FreemanApr 16 12:23p

The New York Giants have agreed to terms with free-agent QB Josh Freeman (Vikings). Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Rolando McClainApr 16 12:13p

Updating previous reports, retired LB Rolando McClain failed his conditioning tests during his workout with the Baltimore Ravens. The test consisted of six timed 150-yard runs.

Golden TateApr 16 10:53a

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate said he thinks he can be a 'more explosive Lance Moore,' referring to the former New Orleans Saints receiver. Moore caught 65 passes for [ More ]

Matt FlynnApr 16 10:01a

Green Bay Packers QB Matt Flynn is expected to compete with QB Scott Tolzien for the backup quarterback job, but head coach Mike McCarthy anticipates keeping three QBs on [ More ]

Rolando McClainApr 16 12:03a

Retired LB Rolando McClain (Ravens) worked out for the Baltimore Ravens Tuesday, April 15, as he attempts a comeback. The workout wasn't a smooth one in terms of conditioning, [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 16 12:03a

The New York Jets are sticking to their budget/value system. While they want free-agent RB Chris Johnson (Titans), they will not 'overpay' for him. The depressed running back market [ More ]

Aldon SmithApr 16 12:03a

San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith hasn't only lost the benefit of the doubt with the team, but he probably won't play with the team in 2014, according to [ More ]

Malcom FloydApr 15 11:53p

San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd (neck) continues his rehab from a neck injury, but his status is still uncertain. When the team begins voluntary workouts April 22, Floyd [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group