EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Reeling from two losses in their past three games, the Minnesota Vikings went into Thursday’s practice without their two biggest stars: running back Adrian Peterson and receiver Percy Harvin.
Peterson, who leads the NFL with 957 rushing yards, was missing with an illness. Meanwhile, Harvin, who has a league-high 62 receptions, is still dealing with a badly injured ankle. Harvin limped very slowly through the locker room Thursday but was without crutches. He suffered sprains in three places during last week’s 30-20 loss at Seattle.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he is hopeful Harvin and Peterson will both return to practice Friday, along with starting defensive tackle Letroy Guion, who has missed practice the past two days with a turf toe injury. Frazier characterized Peterson’s illness as a stomach virus. Harvin’s status for Sunday’s game is a bit more tenuous.
“If he’s well enough to go out and play without putting himself in harm’s way, if he can protect himself,” Frazier said about the conditions Harvin will have to meet to play. “We’ll see how he does tomorrow, if he’s able to go.”
For an offense that has struggled to sustain drives and score points, missing its top two offensive playmakers for Sunday’s game against NFC North foe Detroit would be damaging.
Peterson, who’s averaging a career-best 5.8 yards per carry after having major knee surgery in December, has rushed for at least 123 yards in each of the past three games, including a season-high 182 last week. But even with Peterson’s elite rushing totals, the team’s passing offense has faltered and tallied less than 100 net yards in two of the past three games.
Harvin, also the league’s leading kickoff returner with a 35.9-yard average, has more than double the receptions of the next closest Vikings player, tight end Kyle Rudolph (27 catches). Harvin has 677 receiving yards and three touchdowns and was the catalyst of the short, efficient passing game that powered Minnesota to a surprising 4-1 start.
He had just two catches for 10 yards in last week’s loss and injured his ankle while being tackled on a run during the third quarter. He had the ankle re-taped and returned but didn’t have his usual explosiveness.
With the bye week up next, the Vikings would have the chance to rest Harvin and give his injury more time to heal. But with a crucial stretch of divisional games beginning with the Detroit matchup, Frazier said Harvin will play if he’s ready.
“Well, if he can go, we’ll play him and rest him after the game,” Frazier said. “So, we’ll see how he does tomorrow.”