Percy Harvin (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
The Vikings have three Pro Bowlers that will likely be game-time decisions, including two of their biggest playmakers and their last two first-round draft picks, Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson.
The Vikings continue to have concerns about how many of their playmakers will be able to contribute Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
Wide receiver and Pro Bowl kick returner Percy Harvin remained away from Vikings practice on Friday while he visited the doctor for his migraine headaches.
“They’re still doing what they’ve got to do to him medically,” interim head coach Leslie Frazier said of Harvin’s migraines. “We’ll get a chance to visit with him tomorrow just to see where he is. He’ll probably be a game-time decision.”
Harvin started to practice Wednesday when the migraine hit.
“He’s better today than he was Wednesday or Thursday, but still not quite where you need to be to do what we have to do to prepare for Sunday,” Frazier said. “We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”
Like many, Frazier is hoping that Harvin’s repeated issues with migraines can be figured out in the offseason. The Vikings sent him to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., last year and Harvin was hopeful that a diagnosis this summer of sleep apnea would cure the recurring problem.
“There are a lot of things that will have to be addressed because you hate to see him going through what he’s going through,” Frazier said. “Just hoping that this offseason at some point soon we can come to some conclusions that will help not to have to deal with this for the rest of his life. It’s just a lot of things that we’ve got to go through.”
The Vikings listed Harvin as questionable on the injury report.
Harvin, the Vikings’ 2009 first-round draft pick, was far from alone on the Vikings’ injury report. Their 2007 first-round pick, Adrian Peterson, was also a concern this week after spraining his right ankle in the second quarter of Sunday’s game. He didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday, but Frazier seemed pleasantly surprised by what Peterson was able to do in Friday’s practice.
“(He) moved around pretty good. There’s a probability that he will be able to play,” Frazier said. “We’re going to still take him out on Sunday morning, just to see how he moves around, make sure he’s confident in what he has to do to play in the game. He did a much better job than we thought he would today, so we’re optimistic.”
If Peterson is able to play, he will be monitored on a series-by-series basis, Frazier said.
“If he’s able to go, he would definitely start. Now, what his workload would be would be determined by what he tells us, how he’s feeling,” Frazier said. “Do I need a break this series or a break this play? Or, hey, coach I can finish this series. So it would be our communicating with him, just to see what he can and can’t do.”
Peterson was also listed as questionable, along with guard Steve Hutchinson, wide receiver Greg Lewis, safety Jamarca Sanford and Harvin.
Hutchinson fractured his right thumb Sunday and hasn’t practice all week, although he has tested it on the side Thursday and Friday.
“He’s gained a little bit more confidence about what he can and can’t do. We’ll probably make a decision on Sunday,” Frazier said of the Pro Bowl guard.
If Harvin and Lewis can’t go Sunday, the Vikings would be especially thin at receiver, but Bernard Berrian is expected to play after being extremely limited or out the last three weeks while dealing with a groin injury. He practiced fully this week.
“Bernard’s fine. He’s had a great week. I don’t foresee any problem,” Frazier said. “”So far, so good with Bernard.”
The Vikings do have one definitive on the injury report. Rookie cornerback Chris Cook (knees) will be shut down for Sunday’s game, with the hope of getting him back the following week against the New York Giants.
Safety Husain Abdullah (ankle), Berrian, QB Brett Favre (ankle/shoulder/neck), S Eric Frampton (hamstring), WR Sidney Rice (hip) are all probable.
For the Bills, G Eric Wood, DE Dwan Edwards, LB Reggie Torbor, and TE Shawn Nelson are out. CB Terrence McGee (knee) is doubtful and NT Torell Troup is questionable.
Despite a report Thursday in the Denver Post saying that Vikings running backs coach Eric Bieniemy would be the new offensive coordinator at the University of Colorado, Frazier said he hasn’t heard anything yet as of early afternoon Friday.
“I haven’t heard anything new. He hasn’t expressed that to me, so I don’t know any more than probably what you guys know,” Frazier told reporters, saying he’s hopeful he’d have Bieniemy for at least the rest of the season even if he did get the Colorado job.
“Even if they offer him the job for sure, we need him in a big way. I hope that would be the case.”
PLAYOFFS STILL IN PLAY?
The Vikings’ playoff chances with a 4-7 record looks bleak at best, but making the playoffs after a disappointing start of that magnitude is not without precedence. In fact, it’s been done three times since 1970, all in the AFC.
The 1995 San Diego Chargers had a 4-7 record in 1995 when they went on the comeback trail, posted a 9-7 record and made it to the wild card game. The 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars did the same thing, except they advanced to the AFC Championship Game. The Chargers did it again in 2008, improving from 4-7 to 8-8 and into the divisional round of the playoffs.
According to the NFL, since the current 12-team playoff format was instituted in 1990, 14 teams have reached the postseason despite having a losing record after 11 games. This includes the current streak in which a sub-.500 team after 11 games has reached the playoffs for six consecutive seasons. The New York Jets advanced to the AFC Championship Game after a 5-6 start last season.
The 1993 Vikings were one of those 14 sub-.500 teams, starting the season 5-6 before ending up 9-7 and making it in as a wild card.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.