Vikings' Harvin has the respect of his team

Percy Harvin leads the league in receptions, and he's becoming an emotional team-leader, too.

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The high praise from teammates for Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin continues with the big-play receiver on his way to the best season of his NFL career.

Harvin leads the league with 27 receptions and is the all-purpose yardage leader, and his willingness to do anything has inspired his teammates. Harvin has truly become a leader for Minnesota, and the unhappiness he showed during minicamp seems in the distant past.

"Yeah, I'd be happy if I was getting the ball as much as he is," quarterback Christian Ponder joked Wednesday. "He's doing well. He's a great teammate. Everyone loves him and loves being around him. He's stepping up huge right now this season. I know he's happy to be a Minnesota Viking and he's showing that right now."

Linebacker Chad Greenway spoke this week about how the defense had drawn energy from Harvin's play Sunday in which he helped lead an all-around effort. Harvin has been the go-to playmaker for the team's offense as the Vikings are tied atop the NFC North with a 2-1 record after Sunday's surprise win against the San Francisco 49ers.

"I dread to think where we'd be without him," coach Leslie Frazier said. "He's been terrific every phase and every situation we've asked him to make plays for us. He's done it repeatedly. The type of plays he makes, he energizes our entire team. He's extremely valuable to our cause; just happy that he's playing so well."

Three players miss practice: Minnesota has been one of the healthier teams in the league this season, but was dealing with three key players missing practice on Wednesday.

Frazier said safety Mistral Raymond will miss three to five weeks with an ankle injury he sustained during Sunday's game. Linebacker Erin Henderson still hasn't passed his concussion test. Meanwhile, tight end Kyle Rudolph missed Wednesday's practice with a sore quadriceps. Defensive end Jared Allen was limited on Wednesday due to neck spasms. All four players are starters.

Rudolph was a surprise addition to the injury report, but Frazier didn't sound too worried about the injury.

"Yeah, just a little sore," Frazier said. "So, give him a day here and see how he feels tomorrow."

Allen could also be ready for Sunday's game, but the team wanted to be cautious with the neck injury. Allen was injured during last week's game and missed some time, but did finish the game.

Frazier wasn't sure when Henderson is going to be able to return to practice. He's now missed a week with the concussion.

"We've got to continue to let him go through the protocol and we're hoping that maybe we'll get him tomorrow," Frazier said. "Got my fingers crossed that that might be the case."

Defensive end D'Aundre Reed (calf) and safety Andrew Sendejo (ankle) were limited Wednesday.

Minnesota prepping for Stafford: Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford was hurt during the Lions' loss Sunday at Tennessee, replaced by backup Shaun Hill, who threw two late touchdowns in a comeback effort.

Stafford, listed with a hip injury, was one of six Detroit players that missed Wednesday's practice and coach Jim Schwartz wasn't sure about Stafford's status for Sunday.

"We'll see as this week goes on," Schwartz said Wednesday during his teleconference with Minnesota media. "He wasn't able to finish the game. It was a little bit hot, we played 96 snaps on offense so he got fatigued at the end of the game and wasn't able to finish. You guys are familiar with Shaun Hill and the reason that we think so highly of him. He stepped in and did what he was supposed to do, lead us back to have a chance to win the game. Anytime your starter is not available, your backup is expected to do that. We'll just see this week, how Matt is feeling and then a little like I talked about with Delmas, if he's healthy and he can do his job, he'll be out there. If he can't, then we've got backup players to be able to handle the throwing."

Frazier said the team will be preparing for Stafford, who threw for over 5,000 yards passing and 41 touchdowns last season, to play Sunday.

"Yeah, we'll prepare as if he's going to start," Frazier said. "We'll of course look at tape on Shaun Hill as well. Yeah, we're expecting Stafford to be the starter and we'll have to adjust if it's Shaun Hill."
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