EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- One month after Percy Harvin severely sprained his left ankle, the Minnesota Vikings aren't much closer to having one of their most important players back on the field.
Coach Leslie Frazier didn't rule out the possibility of Harvin missing the rest of the season.
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"It's hard to say," Frazier said when asked if he feared losing the dual-threat wide receiver and standout kickoff returner for the remainder of 2012.
Harvin was absent Wednesday as the Vikings resumed practice, preparing for another critical NFC North game, this one at home against division co-leader Chicago. He was not in the locker room when it was open to reporters, nor was he on the field while the team went through drills.
Harvin was hurt on Nov. 4 at Seattle, leaving briefly in the third quarter of that game but returning with an obvious limp. He has missed three games since and only taken part in practice once since the injury, a week ago as a limited participant.
Harvin was favoring his right foot running routes that afternoon during the portion of the workout that was open to the media, looking far less than full strength when pushing off or planting to change direction. The Vikings have four games left, beginning Sunday against the Bears. Frazier sounded pessimistic about getting any help from Harvin for the team's lagging passing attack.
"I know that he wants to win like we do, and I'm sure he's going to do everything he can do to help our football team. We'll see where it goes," said Frazier, when asked if there were issues with Harvin beyond the injury. The coach said he couldn't go into greater detail about Harvin's condition but said the former first-round draft pick has "done pretty much the things that the trainers have asked him to do" in his rehabilitation.
Frazier said he'd probably have a better answer Thursday to the question about whether Harvin would be able to face Chicago. Frazier said "not a whole lot" has changed with Harvin's condition but alluded to "some things" he's waiting for.
"Just got to see what's going to happen with him," said Frazier.
Harvin caused a stir this summer by expressing unspecified disappointment with the organization and issuing a trade request he quietly rescinded. Harvin's gripe, he later acknowledged, was in part because of the way the team unevenly used him in the offense.
He often moved from spot to spot to maximize his versatility and sometimes was limited to certain personnel groups so the Vikings could protect his health. But that became confusing and frustrating to him at times, he said, because he didn't always know what to expect.
That fuss was all but forgotten with the season he was having, leading the NFL in total rushing, receiving and returning yards until his injury.
His absence has been a big blow to struggling quarterback Christian Ponder, who has favored Harvin by a large margin with the passes he's thrown in 22 games as a starter. Harvin missed a total of three games over his first three seasons, enduring problems with migraine headaches, which haven't given him trouble lately.
"Obviously we want him back on the field, but we have good players that are getting out there," Ponder said. "We'll see what happens. I don't know what or when he'll be back. We're just focused on who's going to be out there, who's going to be practicing today."
Notes: DE Jared Allen's back has caused him some discomfort over the last week. He also confirmed after last Sunday's game he's been playing with a torn labrum in one of his shoulders but downplayed any negative effect that has had on his performance. Allen was on the field with the team at the end of Wednesday's practice, but he didn't participate. Frazier said the injury is not to the extent it would keep him out of this week's game, however. ... Allen was originally given half of a sack, shared with DT Kevin Williams, for a takedown of Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers midway through the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. According to the Vikings, the NFL changed the ruling to give Allen the full credit, bringing his season total to nine. Allen had 22 sacks last year, one-half short of the all-time record. He's tied for 10th in the league this season.