Harvin will not play against the Detroit Lions because of a sprained left ankle.
The injury kept Harvin out of practice all week. He is widely considered one of the toughest players on the roster, so coach Leslie Frazier did not rule out Harvin on Friday. But the coach also made it clear some big progress would have to be made in order for Harvin to give it a go on Sunday.
Losing Harvin is a big blow to a Vikings passing offense ranked 30th. Christian Ponder has struggled mightily and the rest of the team's receiver corps has had difficulty creating separation in the secondary.
The Vikings (5-4) have lost three of their past four games and are desperate to get back on the winning track. Without Harvin, the rest of the nondescript receiver corps is made up of Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Stephen Burton and rookie Jarius Wright, who will be active for the first time in his career.
Harvin was on crutches earlier in the week and still hobbling noticeably around team headquarters as the week progressed.
"You see we definitely get the ball in Percy's hands in the pass game. So with him being out, a lot of guys are going to have to step up," Adrian Peterson said Friday. "So when Christian drops back, his eyes are going to be really going around and seeing who's open. So, hopefully, it's a blessing in disguise and we get things going."
It's a pretty big leap of faith to say Harvin's absence could benefit Ponder. The dynamic fourth-year receiver has been the team's only consistent playmaker in the passing game. He also will take handoffs and is one of the most dangerous kick returners in the league.
Marcus Sherels will return kicks, and Ponder will have to figure out how to get the ball downfield in other ways after failing to top 65 yards passing in two of the past three games.
"It's definitely one of these games, pivotal game of the season to where you lose this one, you put yourselves far behind the 8-ball with six games left and you're going into a bye on a three-game skid," defensive end Jared Allen said. "So, it's an absolute, I don't want to say must win, but it's one we've got to get."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.