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Battle in the Bayou: Harvin's status

1/22/2010

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Rarely do you see such a fluid news story 48 hours before a conference championship game. But I can tell you with utter sincerity that no one knows whether Percy Harvin -- Minnesota’s second-leading receiver, the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year and a Pro Bowl kick returner -- will be available to play Sunday at New Orleans.

Frankly, it’s not even clear whether Harvin will be able to board the team’s charter flight Saturday afternoon. He spent Friday at home while suffering through a second day of migraine headaches, and the Vikings can do nothing but wait for the symptoms to subside. Will that happen tonight? Tomorrow morning? Sunday? Next week? There is absolutely no way to predict it.

Friday, coach Brad Childress said Harvin’s previous dealings with migraines have all varied in terms of intensity and time period. He acknowledged that travel “could” exacerbate the symptoms, but that’s assuming they subside first. If his symptoms this time are as debilitating as they were earlier this season -- forcing him to remain in bed with the lights turned off for several days -- it’s hard to imagine him traveling Saturday.

NFL coaches are often intentionally vague on the status of their injured players, but I think Childress was being entirely truthful when he said: “[W]e’ll just have to see how he comes along. It’s less than ideal, but he’s played under the same circumstances this year.”

By that, Childress meant Harvin missed practice time earlier this season before recovering in time for a game. But he also missed a game because of them last month against Cincinnati.

Without him, the Vikings would have to compensate in a number of ways. Darius Reynaud would take over as their kickoff returner, and Reynaud would probably share time with veteran Greg Lewis in Harvin’s role as the slot receiver.

But at this point, quarterback Brett Favre said, it’s too late to make many schematic or game-planning adjustments.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen,” Favre said. “We hope he plays. But we have to prepare as we’ve been doing, like Percy’s playing. And if Percy’s not playing, we still go on and play it the same way as if he were going to play.”