EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — When the Minnesota Vikings jumped out to their surprising start this season, many started to tout Percy Harvin as an early candidate for the league’s MVP award.
During Minnesota’s late-season run to advance to Saturday’s playoff game at Green Bay, Harvin was merely an afterthought.
The multi-talented receiver and returner was put on injured reserve at the start of December and has been back home in Florida, away from the team’s facilities as the Vikings won their last four games to reach the postseason.
“It’s purely up to him,” coach Leslie Frazier said Wednesday as Minnesota prepares for Saturday’s night’s playoff game against the Packers. “If he wanted to be around, he can be around. But the guys are working hard and doing everything they can. I know he wants our team to do well, and that’s important. We’ve got some other guys on IR that aren’t around as well. It doesn’t concern us.”
When Harvin first suffered a badly sprained ankle in Week 9 at Seattle, he was leading the league in catches, all-purpose yards and kick-return average. Even though he missed the final seven games, he still led the Vikings in catches (62), receiving yards (677) and was third in touchdowns (five). Those totals were good enough to finish 25th, 31st and 38th in the final NFC rankings. His 35.9-yard average on kickoff returns would have led the league if he had enough attempts to qualify.
Harvin and the team were originally hopeful he would miss only one game and return following the team’s Week 11 bye. But the pain, and the questions about his status, lingered before he was eventually placed on season-ending injured reserve on Dec. 5.
Frazier said he hasn’t talked to Harvin lately but added that head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman has been in contact with the explosive but mercurial receiver as he tries to rehab his ankle injury. It was reported as a Grade-3 sprain which included significant tearing of the ligaments.
Frazier said he hasn’t been told that Harvin will need surgery, and the hope is he can recover without it. But as Minnesota readies for the playoffs, Harvin is out of sight and out of mind.
“I know he’s supportive of his teammates,” Frazier said. “And any of the guys that are on IR who don’t travel with us or don’t participate in what we’re doing, it’s nothing that upsets their teammates or gets them concerned. These guys are so focused on Green Bay and getting ready for that game. That’s what’s most important.”