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Updated: November 9th, 2012 7:40pm
Notebook: Could Percy Harvin's absence be 'a blessing in disguise?'

Notebook: Could Percy Harvin's absence be 'a blessing in disguise?'

by Tom Pelissero
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The idea Percy Harvin's absence on Sunday would help the Minnesota Vikings' struggling passing game is counterintuitive, to say the least.

But Adrian Peterson suggested on Friday quarterback Christian Ponder might benefit from being forced to survey the field, rather than leaning on his favorite target.

"You see we definitely get the ball in Percy's hands in the pass game," Peterson said. "With him being out, some guys, a lot of guys are going to have to step up."

Harvin leads the Vikings with 62 receptions for 677 yards (10.9 average). The next highest catch total belongs to tight end Kyle Rudolph, who has 27 for 242 yards. Peterson and receiver Michael Jenkins have 26 each.

One of scouts' criticisms of Ponder is he tends to focus only one read -- usually Harvin -- before bailing out of the pocket. If Harvin's sprained ankle keeps him out on Sunday, it'll be on others to find ways to get open and Ponder to get them the ball.

That's been a struggle on both ends of late. Over the Vikings' past three games, Ponder is 38-of-74 passing (51.4%) for 372 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.

"When Christian drops back, his eyes are going to be really going around and seeing who's open," Peterson said. "Hopefully, it's a blessing in a disguise and we get things going."

Next man up

Whether Harvin plays or not, coach Leslie Frazier said, rookie receiver Jarius Wright will suit up for the first time.

"He handled it well," Frazier said. "We were all teasing him -- 'Are you ready for this prime time action?'"

A fourth-round draft pick from Arkansas, Wright admitted he had become frustrated by his inactivity. He hasn't played since the Aug. 30 preseason finale at Houston, where he had six catches for 122 yards before spraining his left ankle -- an injury that hampered him for weeks.

Asked if he wondered whether he'd play at all as a rookie, Wright said, "In the back of your head, you can't help but to wonder that. But at the same time, I have full faith in my coaches and full faith in this program that they would get me up. So, I never doubted them once."

Back at it

Peterson returned to practice as a full participant, one day after going home sick.

"As soon as I woke up, my stomach just felt like it was cramping, felt like it was riled up," Peterson said. "I threw up before I even got here, and once I got here, man, it was just kind of hunched over, really wasn't feeling good, was feeling weak. Just didn't get better at all."

He is listed as probable for Sunday.

Pick it up

Peterson acknowledged protection breakdowns have contributed to Ponder's struggles as well.

He personally blew two blitz pickups in last week's loss at Seattle and has struggled at times in that area much of the season.

"I'm sure it's been a big factor," Peterson said. "You've got a quarterback with guys in his face and taking hits, you're not going to be comfortable back there. We have our calls, we have our communication to make sure we keep him protected, so it's all about us being on the same page."

Health watch

The Lions ruled out safeties Louis Delmas (knee) and Amari Spievey (concussion), who both missed the first meeting against the Vikings as well.

Four of the five players listed as questionable (50% chance of playing) -- receivers Calvin Johnson (knee) and Titus Young (knee), left end Cliff Avril (back) and defensive tackle Corey Williams (knee) -- are starters.

Johnson reportedly will play despite missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday and limited participation on Friday.

The Vikings listed receiver Harvin (ankle) and nose tackle Letroy Guion (turf toe) as doubtful (25% chance of playing).

Tight end John Carlson (concussion) had "no setbacks," Frazier said, and was one of 10 players the Vikings listed as probable (virtual certainty of playing).

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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