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Updated: November 12th, 2011 2:37pm
Notebook: Near-miss at Lambeau 'haunted' Percy Harvin during offseason

Notebook: Near-miss at Lambeau 'haunted' Percy Harvin during offseason

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Percy Harvin still asks himself what could have been.

It was last Oct. 24 at Lambeau Field, less than a minute to play, the Minnesota Vikings trailing the Packers 28-24 and facing first-and-30 at the Green Bay 35-yard line.

Brett Favre stepped left, then right, then threw to the post for Harvin, who elevated for over three defenders for an apparent go-ahead touchdown in the back of the north end zone.

One problem: Harvin's right foot landed on the end line, and the call was overturned upon review.

"I still think about that today," the third-year receiver recalled on Saturday, shortly after the Vikings wrapped preparations for their Monday night return to Green Bay.

"That haunted me over the offseason quite a bit. If we get that, you never know how the season ends after that."

A win would have evened the Vikings' record at 3-3 and moved them ahead of the Packers in the standings. Instead, they dropped to 2-4, lost again the next week at New England and were all but out of playoff contention.

The Packers would have missed the playoffs with one fewer win. Instead, they finished 10-6, earned the last wild-card spot on a tiebreaker and ended up winning the Super Bowl.

"That's the NFL," Harvin said. "You look at our season this year -- who knows?"

The Vikings are in a far deeper hole this time around. A win at Carolina on Oct. 30 sent them into the bye at 2-6, and the season's second half begins with them as 14-point underdogs on the road against the NFL's last remaining unbeaten.

Coach Leslie Frazier has been adamant players will be up for Monday's game, though, given the opportunity to hand the Packers their first loss on a primetime, nationally televised stage. It doesn't hurt the Vikings led the Packers 17-13 on Oct. 23 at the Metrodome before crumbling in an awful third quarter and falling 33-27.

"We definitely know we can play with 'em," Harvin said. "We know there are plays out there to be made against them. We're not looking like they don't put on their pants the same way we do. ... I'm looking to get back there and hopefully finish it this time."

Health watch

Harvin confirmed the bye week helped his ailing rib, but he stopped short of declaring himself fully healed.

"I don't know if it's taken care of," Harvin said. "We'll see once I have contact. As far as running and some of the stuff that was bothering me before I left."

The rib has bothered Harvin on and off since the first week of training camp. He wasn't even listed on the injury report this week for the first time since reinjuring it on Oct. 9.

"No residuals from the ribs, anything," Frazier said. "He's been full-go all week long."

As expected, cornerback Antoine Winfield (neck) and right tackle Phil Loadholt (illness) are probable for Monday's game. Right guard Anthony Herrera (knee) and cornerback Chris Cook (not injury related) were ruled out on Thursday.

The Packers ruled out end Mike Neal (knee), along with left tackle Chad Clifton (hamstring) and linebacker Frank Zombo (hamstring). Safety Morgan Burnett (hand), linebacker Clay Matthews (knee) and right guard Josh Sitton (knee) are probable.

Sticking with Erin

Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson said his ailing knee is "feeling a little better" after the week off. But the Vikings plan to stick with brother Erin Henderson as the primary mike in the nickel.

"We're probably going to keep Erin in there and maybe take a look at E.J. in there," Frazier said, adding that E.J. has "practiced well this week. We were hoping the bye would help him and it seems like it has. He's done a good job. We have sprinkled him in some in practice, but we'll see how it goes in the game."

E.J. Henderson said he hasn't dealt with as much swelling in the knee -- the entry point of the titanium rod surgeons used to repair his fractured femur in December 2009 -- since coaches took him out of the nickel defense again after the Oct. 16 loss at Chicago.

"I definitely want to be out there every snap if possible," Henderson said. "But it's up to the coaches, myself and the trainers to see how I feel and how I look out there. Right now, that's the process we're taking."

It's unclear to what extent coaches would be willing to take away reps from Erin Henderson, who has exceeded expectations in the unfamiliar nickel role.

"He didn't get a lot of reps at it in training camp," Frazier said. "To play it as well as he has, it's been great for us."

Quick hit

Cornerback Cedric Griffin is expected to remain a starter, although Winfield's return and Griffin's problematic knees might lead to some creative deployment against the Packers.

"He has a good understanding of their receivers, played against them a lot of times," Frazier said. "... I think that alone, the time off (for the bye), should help him refocus and physically be at top speed."

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