Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin will miss his first game of the season today against the Cincinnati Bengals after sitting out practice all three days last week because of migraine headaches. Starting safety Tyrell Johnson also is out.
Harvin has played on at least three occasions this season after battling migraines in the days leading up to the game but this was the first time he had missed the entire week. Harvin also continued to play after suffering a shoulder injury in Week 5 at St. Louis.
The Vikings will get cornerback Antoine Winfield back after a six-game absence. Winfield injured his right foot in Week 6 against Baltimore and missed the next six games (seven weeks). It remains to be seen how much Winfield will play today -- he could be eased back in -- but he will get the start. Cedric Griffin (neck) will start today despite being limited in practice last week.
Johnson did not practice last week after suffering a concussion at Arizona. Rookie Jamarca Sanford will start in his place. A seventh-round pick last April, Sanford will be making his first career start. The will mean the Vikings will be missing two defensive starters. Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson (broken leg) is out for the season and will be replaced by rookie Jasper Brinkley, a fifth-round pick.
Also out for the Vikings today is cornerback Karl Paymah, who helped to replace Winfield and more importantly played a key role on special teams. Paymah was limited last week because of a knee injury.
Also inactive for the Vikings are Sage Rosenfels (third quarterback): tight end Garrett Mills; center Jon Cooper; defensive end Jayme Mitchell; and defensive tackle Letroy Guion.
Harvin, the leading candidate for NFL offensive rookie of the year, is second on the Vikings with 48 receptions for 681 yards and six touchdowns. He also has averaged 29 yards on 34 returns with two touchdowns. Wide receiver Darius Reynaud is likely to return punts and kicks but wide receiver Jaymar Johnson is up and he has the ability to serve on returns.
Linebacker Erin Henderson, who is E.J.'s younger brother, will be active today and is likely to play on special teams. The loss of Harvin and Paymah are key to the special teams units.
The Vikings had 13 players on their injury report last week. Several of them will play today. Griffin, Winfield and starting right tackle Phil Loadholt (dislocated shoulder) were all questionable but will play.
For the Bengals, starting defensive tackle Domata Peko (knee) and running back Bernard Scott (foot) are out. Free safety Chris Crocker (ankle) will start. Pat Sims will start for Peko and Nate Livings will start for Evan Mathis at left guard.
The Bengals other inactives include J.T. O'Sullivan (third quarterback); safety Kyries Hebert (knee); fullback Fui Vakapuna; center Jonathan Luigs (back); linebacker Dan Skuta; and wide receiver Jerome Simpson.