MANKATO, Minn. -- While many rookies who hold out of training camp fall dangerously behind as their teams practice without them, Percy Harvin took advantage of a luxury that few others enjoy: his friendship with Tim Tebow.
While Harvin's agent Joel Segal negotiated with the Minnesota Vikings, the speedy receiver spent his days on the campus of his alma mater catching passes from Tebow, his Heisman Trophy-winning teammate the past three seasons at Florida.
"He's probably the best thing other than a pro quarterback," Harvin said Sunday, after signing a five-year deal with the Vikings. "Of course he's not a pro quarterback, but I got the best work in I could do without actually being here."
Harvin, the 22nd overall pick, missed the first two days and four practices of training camp, but hopped an early flight from Florida to the Twin Cities to make sure he got there in time for Sunday's practice.
"I don't think anybody was more anxious to get on the field than me today," Harvin said.
Well, maybe there was one.
Coach Brad Childress said that it was important for Harvin to get into camp as soon as possible so he didn't fall too far behind. He'll be asked to play a variety of roles for the Vikings, including wide receiver, running back and return man, so he has plenty of studying to do.
"We're going to challenge him," Childress said. "It's not like we're going to spoon feed him."
While many scouts and draft analysts said Harvin had top-10 talent, he slipped to the Vikings due to concerns about his durability and a failed drug test at the NFL combine.
Childress had some of the same concerns, so he flew to Florida and met personally with Harvin and his family before the draft. The coach came away impressed by his willingness to take responsibility for past mistakes and didn't hesitate to draft Harvin when the Vikings came on the clock.
"It's a dream come true," Harvin said after his first official practice. "For me, there was a lot of bumps that prevented myself from getting to this point. It seemed to be a little farther than it actually was.
"But to actually get here, everything's behind me. I can kind of start over here. I'm just glad to be here and thankful and ready to hit the ground running."
The versatile playmaker is expected to complement Adrian Peterson in Minnesota's ramped-up offense. During minicamps earlier this summer, Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell began experimenting with their new toy. They lined up Harvin at receiver out wide, in the slot, and motioned him into the backfield on reverses and other running plays.
His arrival could also bring a version of the Wildcat offense to Minnesota. Harvin and Peterson in the same backfield would give the Vikings a dynamic element that's been missing since Childress took over in 2006.
Harvin also could bolster the team's mediocre return game. His quickness and ability to change directions in a heartbeat make him ideal for the job.
"Return man. Slot. A little bit in the backfield," Harvin said. "The motions. The screens. I'm looking to be all over."
The Vikings threw him right into the mix on Sunday, giving him some time with the No. 1 offense during a goal-line installation and running reverses, catching passes and fielding kickoffs.
"He's playing big, he's playing fast, making turns like on the drop of a dime," tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said, "and he's catching everything."