If the Minnesota Vikings are going to get their woeful passing game going on Sunday, it appears they will have to do it without star receiver Percy Harvin.
Harvin was listed as doubtful Friday for the game against Detroit after a sprained left ankle kept him out of practice all week. He is widely considered one of the toughest players on the roster, so coach Leslie Frazier said he is not ruling out Harvin entirely just yet. But the coach also made it clear some big progress will have to be made in order for Harvin to give it a go on Sunday.
"He'd have to make quite a bit of recovery tomorrow for us to say, we'll wait until Sunday to see what he can do," Frazier said. "But it's possible. We've seen it happen before. So, we'll continue to treat him and see how he feels tomorrow."
Losing Harvin would be a big blow to a Vikings passing offense ranked 30th. Christian Ponder has struggled mightily and the rest of the team's receiver corps has had difficulty creating separation in the secondary.
The Vikings (5-4) have lost three of their last four games and are desperate to get back on the winning track. Without Harvin, the rest of the nondescript receiver corps is made up of Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Stephen Burton and rookie Jarius Wright, who will be active for the first time in his career.
Harvin was on crutches earlier in the week and still hobbling noticeably around team headquarters as the week progressed. He was unavailable for comment Friday.
Defensive tackle LeTroy Guion was listed as doubtful with a turf toe injury, but the Vikings did get Adrian Peterson back at practice Friday after he missed the previous day with an illness. The star running back fully expects to play on Sunday.
"You see we definitely get the ball in Percy's hands in the pass game. So with him being out, a lot of guys are going to have to step up," Peterson said. "So when Christian drops back, his eyes are going to be really going around and seeing who's open. So, hopefully it's a blessing in disguise and we get things going."
It's a pretty big leap of faith to say Harvin's absence could benefit Ponder. The dynamic fourth-year receiver has been the team's only consistent playmaker in the passing game. He also will take handoffs and is one of the most dangerous kick returners in the league.
Marcus Sherels will return kicks if Harvin can't go, and Ponder will have to figure out how to get the ball downfield in other ways after failing to top 65 yards passing in two of the last three games.
"It's definitely one of these games, pivotal game of the season to where you lose this one, you put yourselves far behind the 8-ball with six games left and you're going into a bye on a three-game skid," defensive end Jared Allen said. "So, it's an absolute, I don't want to say must win, but it's one we've got to get."
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