Damage-assessment day at Winter Park

The Vikings will start to figure out which of their starters can make it back for the Green Bay game. Concussions to Kyle Rudolph and Harrison Smith will be evaluated, along with the lingering ankle injury for Percy Harvin.

Today will be a big day at Winter Park as the Vikings try to do damage assessments on three of their top young stars.

The status of Percy Harvin remains very much in flux. Despite telling reporters that he felt he was ready to practice with his teammates last week, Harvin never hit the practice field beyond the stretching phases as he continues to recover from a severe ankle sprain suffered Nov. 4 at Seattle.

It was hoped that, following the bye week, Harvin would be in a better position to play. However, he told reporters early in the week that he had just recently had the swelling subside enough to throw aside his crutches – more than two weeks after the injury. He will again be the subject of conversation this week, since the last time we saw Harvin he was still walking with a pronounced limp after Friday's practice and didn't make the trip to Chicago last weekend.

A new pair of injuries that could have significant impacts on both sides of the ball are concussions sustained by tight end Kyle Rudolph and safety Harrison Smith Sunday at Chicago. Rudolph was the subject of a knockdown hit from linebacker Lance Briggs, who laid out Rudolph as he ran a crossing route over the middle of the field and was looking back at Christian Ponder. Smith's concussion was due to not-so-friendly fire as he tried to deliver a hit on the sidelines. Smith popped back to his feet, but was immediately corralled by defensive end Brian Robison and the team's medical staff and ushered to the sidelines.

Because of the league's new rules related to concussions, players have to pass post-concussion protocols, which include a stress test, before they will be allowed back on the field. It is assumed that both Smith and Rudolph will take the post-concussion tests today, but will likely be held out of practice at for at least one day, if not more. One of the differences between a concussion and another body injury is that, in those other cases, players can often convince the coaching staff to let them play. Plantar fasciitis, for example, is excruciatingly painful, but, depending on the pain tolerance level of a given player, some play through such injuries. When it comes to concussions, outside medical personnel must clear a player before he is allowed back on the field, whether he feels fine or not.

As the Vikings head into their biggest game of the season to date – a loss likely eliminates any chance of a division title and deals a crippling blow to their wild card hopes – they may be doing so without three of their top young stars. Wednesday will be the first real test on their ability to return.


  • The Packers have been without Greg Jennings for much of the 2012 season, but he is expected to return to the field Sunday when the Vikings head to Lambeau Field. Jennings has missed most of the season, initially with a hamstring injury and then an abdominal injury that required surgery. He was expected to potentially return last week, but, after stretching on the field prior to the game with the Giants, the decision was made to let him sit another week before making his return to action.

  • From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department comes this: There is a movement afoot to try to get Fireman Ed, an unofficial, self-proclaimed mascot of the Jets, to come back in his unofficial capacity as a fan. For those unfamiliar with Fireman Ed, he is famous for climbing on the shoulders of a burlier Jets fan as if trying to get a view of a parade when New Yorkers prove they can spell by screaming out "J-E-T-S" followed immediately by, "Jets! Jets! Jets! Jets!" Apparently the Jets are such a worthless news story this year (even with Tim Tebow) that the outrage of a fan has become newsworthy. Good luck with that.

  • There is a growing sentiment that Jared Allen will arrive at Winter Park some day this week and find the dreaded FedEx envelope in his locker with the NFL offices as the return address for his hit on Chicago offensive lineman Lance Louis Sunday. Allen has a history with the league, once being summoned to New York to meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell after a couple of incidents in short proximity got him labeled as a dirty player. While Allen maintains he isn't dirty, the video evidence isn't good and the fact Louis was placed on injured reserve Monday doesn't make his case for innocence any stronger.

  • The Bears signed offensive lineman Andre Gurode to replace Louis on their roster. Gurode may be best known for wearing a crimson mask after Albert Haynesworth used his forehead to sharpen his spikes. To make room for Gurode, the team cut Amobi Okoye, a former first-round draft pick who has bounced around the league the last few years.

  • Also from the "Let's Go to the Videotape" library comes this: Multiple reviews of the footage of Ndamukong Suh's foot saying "Hello!!" to Matt Schaub's midsection have led many to believe that, given the positioning that Suh had, the freeze frame of him locating where Schaub was before hitting the ground and the little extra kick with his foot, the kick was intentional. Whether it was or not, Suh has built such a reputation for being a dirty player that the preponderance of the evidence points to guilt simply because of his recidivism with the NFL discipline police.

  • Things may be falling apart in Detroit. After a spat over his role with head coach Jim Schwartz, wide receiver Titus Young was sent home by the team prior to their Thanksgiving Day game and word out of Detroit is that Young may be kept off the game-day roster the rest of the season. Not good news in Detroit, where things tend to snowball when bad times come to call.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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