Harvin's choice is to stay away

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG and DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: January 3, 2013 - 5:54 AM
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Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier hugged receiver Percy Harvin during team warm-ups before a game in October.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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Percy Harvin led the NFL in receptions and was an early front-runner for NFL MVP until he suffered a torn ligament in his left ankle on Nov. 4 at Seattle.

The Vikings receiver hasn't been at Winter Park since being placed on injured reserve Dec. 5. The Vikings have gone 5-2 without Harvin, who chose to stay in Florida while rehabilitating.

Coach Leslie Frazier said Harvin, 24, is not required to be at Winter Park or on the sideline for games.

"It's purely up to him," Frazier said. "If he wanted to be around, he could be around. I know he wants our team to do well, and that's important.

"I know he's supportive of his teammates. As any of the guys who are on IR that don't travel with us or don't participate in what we're doing, it's nothing that upsets their teammates or gets them concerned."

Frazier said the Vikings are monitoring Harvin's rehab. Harvin, who has five career kickoff returns for touchdown, has one season left on his rookie contract.

Put me in, coach

Adrian Peterson has lobbied to play on special teams, and not only to return kickoffs.

"He always asks," special teams coach Mike Priefer insisted. "He's a football player. Gunner, field goal block, returner. The guy is awesome. I always say yes. And then I ask the head coach and he says no."

Peterson confirmed his desire to get on the field more with a role outside of the offense.

"Yeah, for the past two years I have been trying to get in on field goal block," he said. "Come in off the edge. You know. It's just going to take one block for them to really be [like], 'OK, you know what, let's take the chance and let you go out there and get it done.' "

Injury update

Quarterback Christian Ponder had his reps limited in practice Wednesday because of a bruise on his throwing elbow.

"It doesn't seem like it should be something that would hinder him [Saturday]," Frazier said. "But we need to ramp it up a little bit tomorrow to see where he is."

Ponder suffered the bruise when he was hit on the play during which the ball blooped into the air and somehow avoided two Packers to land in the hands of receiver Jarius Wright for a 17-yard gain during Sunday's 37-34 victory.

Frazier voiced confidence that cornerback Antoine Winfield will be able to play despite a fractured right hand.

Winfield and Peterson (abdomen) sat out practice. Safety Harrison Smith (shoulder) and defensive end Brian Robison (shoulder) were limited in practice but should be fine for Saturday, Frazier said.

Special teams standout Tyrone McKenzie (shoulder) didn't practice again and probably won't play.

Emerging leader

The latest glowing endorsement for Ponder came via defensive end Jared Allen. The Pro Bowl regular openly praised Ponder's energy and self-belief during the team's four-game winning streak to close the regular season. Most of all, Allen said, he's seen Ponder grow more assertive, leading animated pregame team huddles to energize the Vikings.

Said Allen: "Hearing your quarterback's voice and knowing that he's excited, when he's pumped up, it gives you the confidence that 'OK, the head of our offense, he's ready to go.' "

Etc.

• Larry Bowie, a guard who played for the Vikings for eight seasons in the 1960s, died Monday at age 73. Bowie's career with the Vikings ended in 1968 when he had a blood clot removed from his brain during the season. He lived in Mahtomedi.

• Rookie kicker Blair Walsh, who had three field goals, including the game-winner Sunday, was named NFC special teams player of the week for the third time this season.

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