It's pretty obvious by the way he's playing that Vikings receiver Percy Harvin is one extremely happy camper, which is something he admittedly wasn't during minicamp in June. Coach Leslie Frazier confirmed Harvin's happiness Wednesday and noted how it affects the rest of the team, and not just on game day.
"The way he practices, he practices hard and he doesn't ask to get out of reps," Frazier said. "He's great in the meetings. He's been a very good teammate. We need that. When you've got so many young guys who are learning how to play in our league, to have a star player like him stepping up and being attentive and taking notes and showing guys the way. And then going on the field and playing the way he's playing, it's big for our entire team."
That's quite the 180-degree turnaround from June, when Harvin skipped a mandatory minicamp workout, said he was unhappy and asked for a trade. That melodrama is a distant memory now.
Quarterback Christian Ponder was asked about Harvin's happiness. Ponder smiled and said, "I'd be happy if I was getting the ball as much as he is."
Harvin has an NFL-best 27 receptions.
Three Vikings starters missed Wednesday's practice. Linebacker Erin Henderson remained out because of a concussion; tight end Kyle Rudolph is dealing with a bruised thigh; and safety Mistral Raymond will be out for the next three to five weeks because of a dislocated ankle.
Raymond's timetable was estimated after he visited a specialist this week to evaluate the seriousness of the injury he suffered Sunday.
Frazier said he's hopeful and has his "fingers crossed" that Henderson will be cleared to return to practice Thursday. Rudolph's injury is also not expected to be serious.
Defensive end Jared Allen, meanwhile, was limited in practice Wednesday, working back from neck spasms that bothered him against San Francisco.
In Detroit, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford missed Wednesday's practice because of what is being labeled as a hip injury. Stafford's status for Sunday remains questionable.
After fumbling three times within a span of four fourth-quarter carries Sunday, running back Toby Gerhart said he's ready to get back on the field and put his ball security woes behind him.
The key, Gerhart said, is concentrating on the issue without obsessing about it. Also a former baseball player at Stanford, Gerhart called his fumbling problems "a fluke thing, [like] a catcher getting the yips and not being able to throw the ball back to the pitcher.
"If you dwell on it, think about it too much, then you get overly cautious, and you stop running the ball well. You're thinking about holding it and being all rigid. It's one of those things. Yes, you have to address it. Yes, as a running back, it should never come out. At the same time, you can't think about it too much."
Gerhart said he will concentrate on wrapping the ball up with both hands when nearing contact in practice this week.
"That's the way you've been taught since you were a kid," he said. "I got away from that a little bit, maybe, a bit overconfident. Especially in a situation like that, in [late-game situations], where everybody is going for the ball. I'll definitely be conscious of it. [Running backs coach James] Saxon always uses the term paranoid awareness, where you don't want to be too paranoid about it, but you want to be aware of the situation."
• Asked about the Vikings' 11-game losing streak within the NFC North, Frazier talked about how important a victory on Sunday would be, but he also noted: "It's a new year." Frazier is 0-8 in the division since becoming head coach.
• Frazier spoke on how much he intends to use receiver Jerome Simpson -- who returns from his three-game suspension -- this week: "Quite a bit. We definitely want to get him involved." Added Ponder: "[We'll] try to do some things to get the ball downfield. We want to make big plays, but we're not going to force them."