- Kevin Seifert, NFL Nation
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If it wasn't clear before, it should be now: Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was absolutely holding back when he spoke in vague and cryptic phrases Wednesday morning about receiver Percy Harvin.
About six hours after Frazier said there were some things he needed "to see what's going to happen with," the Vikings placed Harvin on injured reserve because of what has been described as a sprained ankle. Harvin is ineligible to play for the rest of the season and will miss a total of seven games over two months.
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com has reported Harvin suffered a complete ligament tear during a Week 9 game against the Seattle Seahawks. But it is still rare for a sprain to sideline a player for half a season, and Frazier had been suggesting Harvin would be ready to practice for weeks.
The Vikings haven't offered an official comment since making the evening announcement, so we should be careful about theorizing about what could be going on behind the scenes. Harvin's history of eccentric behavior makes it easy to presume a conspiracy of some level, but I've got nothing more than educated guesses there.
Was there a disconnect with the team on his rehabilitation? Is there lingering animosity from whatever prompted Harvin to direct a mini-tirade at Frazier in Seattle, before the injury? Is he upset the Vikings didn't reward him with a contract extension after an MVP-caliber start to his season? I don't know.
The simplest answer is that Harvin's injury didn't heal as quickly as expected and he will need either surgery or extended rest away from the practice field to get himself straightened out. That would explain why the Vikings somewhat randomly decided to place him on injured reserve Wednesday evening.
That aside, we should note that the Vikings' offense has slipped from middling to downright plodding in his absence. They averaged 6.7 yards per pass attempt with Harvin in the lineup for their first nine games, and that figure has dropped to 5 yards per attempt since he departed. The chart, provided by John McTigue of ESPN Stats & Information, shows how much Harvin meant to quarterback Christian Ponder this season.
Harvin has one year remaining on his contract, and already some of you are asking whether he has played his last game with the Vikings. The truth is his amazing performance this season was bookended by bizarre events that have yet to be fully explained. He requested a trade during minicamp, put up MVP numbers in Weeks 1-9 and then disappeared from the landscape with an injury that rarely causes such an absence. As has often been the case with Harvin's time in Minnesota, I have no idea what's next.