PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Technically, Percy Harvin has been the player removed from the spotlight. Despite taking part in a few pass-catching drills on Friday, the Vikings' top receiver did not practice and has been stamped with a "doubtful" tag for Sunday, still unable to cut smoothly.
"It seems like the ability to push off and change direction is giving him a little bit of trouble," coach Leslie Frazier said.
Frazier had expected Harvin back following a Week 11 bye. But the recovery process has been slow. "No real setbacks," Frazier said. "He just hasn't made the improvement that we'd hoped."
In September, Harvin totaled 353 yards from scrimmage and had a kickoff-return touchdown in Detroit.
October? Harvin finished that month with a league-leading 60 catches for 667 yards on the season with five TDs as his name surfaced in early MVP chatter.
November? Two catches, 10 yards, zero full practices and a badly sprained left ankle that threatens to keep him home again this weekend.
Harvin saw the field, in a limited capacity, only twice in November, on the 2nd and 28th. The Vikings will need him healthy for the December stretch run if they are to keep from fading from the NFC playoff picture. But it appears this weekend they may again have to go without him.MOST PRESSING QUESTION
Can the Vikings hold on to the football?
Stealing a win at Lambeau Field, where Green Bay has won 23 of its past 25, may require an error-free effort. That means quarterback Christian Ponder will need more help from his receivers than he received last weekend, when Jerome Simpson served as grand marshal for a Soldier Field drop parade.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said he believed that performance -- with the Vikings dropping at least six passes -- was uncharacteristic. Musgrave also said the miscues didn't change his play calling.
"We weren't keeping count at all," he said. "We just knew we had to keep plugging."
Adrian Peterson had his own ball-security lapses, playing a major role in two fumbles. The second, on a botched handoff, frustrated Peterson the most.
"That was more of a giveaway," he said. "It wasn't like they forced it out. I clamped down too early and the ball bounced off of my forearm."
Such mistakes must be eliminated for the Vikings to have any chance Sunday.
KEEP AN EYE ON ...
It's easy to marvel at Peterson's league-leading 1,236 rushing yards. And it's also astounding to recognize that his 737 rushing yards over the past five games are only two shy of what Green Bay's top three backs have compiled for the season. But here's an even bigger eye-opener for this weekend. Peterson needs just 12 rushing yards to surpass 8,000 for his career. He should do so Sunday in his 85th career game, the same number it took Emmitt Smith, the NFL's all-time leading rusher, to get there.
Only five backs have reached 8,000 yards faster: Eric Dickerson (73 games), Jim Brown (80), Earl Campbell (83), Barry Sanders (83) and Edgerrin James (84).
Aaron Rodgers did not look sharp in last week's 38-10 loss in New York. He was sacked five times, threw for only 219 yards and never seemed to get into rhythm. But that was a rare slip. In the previous seven games -- six of those Green Bay wins -- Rodgers had a .669 completion percentage, averaged 268 passing yards per game and threw for 24 TDs. He still has a league-leading 105.6 rating, and his 28 TD passes are second only to Drew Brees (31).
INJURIES AND FINES
Harvin's injury remains the biggest deal for the Vikings. In Green Bay, the Packers have major injury concerns of their own. Defensive starters Clay Matthews (hamstring), Charles Woodson (collarbone) and Sam Shields (ankle) have been declared out.
Other Vikings listed on the injury report, all probable, are: Jared Allen (shoulder/back), Peterson (shoulder), Kyle Rudolph (shoulder/concussion), Jasper Brinkley (shoulder), Phil Loadholt (knee), Harrison Smith (concussion), Antoine Winfield (knee), Letroy Guion (foot) and Chris Kluwe (knee).
In the fine department, Allen's $21,000 fee for his blindside block on was the only Vikings punishment last week.