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Vikings' injury report keeps getting longer, and there are some big names on the list

No professional sports league is as forthcoming about injuries as the NFL, and yet knowing what to make of the Vikings' injury report is difficult. Does it bode disaster, or is coach Brad Childress just listing every nick, tweak and bruise? In th...

Percy Harvin
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Michael Adams (left) hits Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin as Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress, runs down the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

No professional sports league is as forthcoming about injuries as the NFL, and yet knowing what to make of the Vikings' injury report is difficult.

Does it bode disaster, or is coach Brad Childress just listing every nick, tweak and bruise?

In the final injury report of the week released Friday afternoon, the Vikings identified five players as questionable for Sunday evening's NFC championship game in New Orleans. All are starters, including three-fourths of the defensive line.

Held out of practice Friday were receiver Percy Harvin (migraines) and defensive tackle Pat Williams (elbow/foot). Limited were defensive tackle Kevin Williams (knee), defensive end Ray Edwards (knee) and cornerback Benny Sapp (ankle/back).

Williams and Edwards practiced for the first time all week.

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"They did OK," Childress said. "We'll see how they bounce tomorrow. That's always the litmus test."

When the week started, the only real concern was Edwards, who hurt his right knee in last weekend's 34-3 divisional playoff victory over Dallas. But Sapp and Pat Williams apparently have new injuries -- Sapp's back and Williams' foot -- and Harvin, the NFL's offensive rookie of the year, wasn't even at the practice facility after missing practice on Thursday.

"You don't make (that) up because two days of practice is two days of practice," Childress said. "With that said, (Harvin) got a base game plan on Wednesday, got through the kickoff return area, which is a point of

emphasis on Wednesday. So we'll just have to see how he comes along.

"It's less than ideal, but he's played under the same circumstances this year."

In his final news conference of the week, Childress did not sound like a coach missing key players. "We're focused and ready to go," he said. "Had a very good week of practice."

Yet there's no doubt that if any of those questionable players can't play -- questionable, under NFL guidelines, means a player has a 50-50 chance of playing -- the Vikings' strength will be compromised.

Harvin seems most in danger of actually missing Sunday's game. He missed a Week 14 victory over Cincinnati because of migraines, and Childress said it was impossible to guess whether Harvin is having the same kind of trouble this week.

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"It's hard for me to even handicap that," the coach said. "(The headaches) all vary in intensity and time period, that type of thing."

Edwards, so brilliant last week against Dallas -- three sacks, forced fumble -- practiced lightly with a brace on his right knee Friday. Williams was on the field for warm-ups but, according to the injury report, didn't practice.

On Thursday, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier explained the importance of his starting tackles.

"When people are game-planning our defense, they're always aware of how they need to put together their run offense -- 'How are we going to block Kevin Williams? How do we block Pat Williams?' " Frazier said. "We had a game a few weeks ago where Pat Williams didn't play, in Chicago. I'm sure it increased their confidence as an offense in terms of running the football."

Williams sat out that game with an elbow injury. The Vikings lost 36-30 in overtime.

"Their presence creates a dilemma for offenses," Frazier said. "Some of the things they ordinarily would have success with, running the ball, isn't going to be there -- unless you're going to double-team them every down."

Sapp, who had a back injury added to the list on Friday, is already filling in for cornerback Antoine Winfield, who has been used mostly as a nickel back while he recovers from a fractured foot.

Perhaps the biggest question is not whether those defensive players will play, but how banged up they are. The defensive line's stellar play was a major reason why the Vikings dominated Dallas last weekend, and Edwards and Kevin Williams were half of that equation.

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"If they're out there, they're going to be flying around, playing at 100 percent," linebacker Chad Greenway predicted. "I think that goes without question with the way those guys have played all year. ... I think in this situation and scenario they're going to go out there and give everything they have and they're going to have to be pretty bad not to be out there."

Harvin presents a different issue because he doesn't even have to touch the ball, or hit somebody, to make an impact. An every-down home-run threat, his mere presence affects a defense, and Minnesota used that to its advantage all season.

Quarterback Brett Favre, however, said Harvin's absence wouldn't change the game plan.

"Maybe the mind-set is different -- this play typically goes to Percy, or from a defensive standpoint your focus is on Percy on this particular play," Favre said. "I'm not saying the focus would be off that position, but it's not Percy.

"I have no idea what's going to happen. We hope he plays, but we have to prepare as we've been doing, like Percy's playing. And if he doesn't play, we still play the same way as we were going to play it."

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