Percy Harvin on severely sprained ankle and Sunday's status:"We’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s a long shot but I’m not ruling myself out."— Pioneer Press (@VikingsNow) November 5, 2012
Harvin is an exceptionally tough player, and is one of the few wide receivers in the league who may actually be able to fight through an injury like this and suit up. Even if this is the case, the versatile wideout relies on quick cuts and acceleration to be effective, and a sprained ankle will ensure that he is not nearly as agile or explosive as he has been this year.
The Vikings were one of the NFL’s biggest early-season surprises after getting out to a 4-1 start. Their success has been led by Adrian Peterson’s unbelievable ability to return at full strength after tearing his ACL nine months before the start of the 2012 season, and Harvin’s emergence as one of the league’s most versatile scoring threats.
Harvin currently leads the NFL with 62 receptions and also has the top mark with 517 yards after the catch. The New England Patriots' Wes Welker is in second place in this category and trails the Vikings' wideout by 124 yards.
His ability to make plays with the ball in his hands is truly remarkable, and this has helped him lead the league with an average of 35.9 yards per kickoff return. Harvin’s electric playmaking skills have been instrumental in Minnesota's winning record.
However, the team has lost three of its last four games and will find it extremely difficult to be successful in a division battle with the Detroit Lions without Harvin at full strength.
If the Vikings drop to 5-5 against the Lions, their hopes at a surprise playoff birth are all but over.
The team will have a bye week to get healthy after facing Detroit, but then finishes the year with a brutal schedule. In its final six games, Minnesota has two matchups with the 7-1 Chicago Bears and two contests against the surging 6-3 Green Bay Packers.
The matchup with the Lions will be crucial as Minnesota would likely have to win four of the six games after the bye week to have a shot at getting a wild-card spot if they are unable to beat Detroit for the second time this season.
In the first matchup between the two teams, Harvin had a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and the Vikings won 20-13. This time around, the team will not be able to count on the same type of production from its star wide receiver and kick returner.
The timing of Harvin’s injury was truly unfortunate, as it has made the Vikings' path to the postseason even more difficult than it already was.