MINNEAPOLIS — Coach Brad Childress said numerous times that he does not know when Percy Harvin will return to the Vikings. But the team quietly took a step toward ending an absence that reached its 13th day Friday.
The Vikings received a roster exemption from the league for the former Florida standout with the designation of "left the squad." As part of the process to be granted that exemption, the Vikings had to send Harvin a "five-day letter," meaning that if he hasn't rejoined the team in five calendar days, it can place him on the reserve/left the squad list.
That would mean the league's offensive rookie of the year would be ineligible to play this season. The Vikings have no intention of having him miss the season — they are not required to use the reserve/left squad designation after five days — but they want him back.
Harvin, 22, is believed to be at his Twin Cities home, so getting to Winter Park as early as Monday would be no issue. Players have Sunday off.
Harvin left the second practice early because of an ankle injury July 31 but returned for the evening session. He left the Vikings the next day after learning of his grandmother's death. When Harvin's absence continued, Childress explained that Harvin had a recurrence of migraines.
Harvin's agent, Joel Segal, has declined to comment.
Russell failed drug test: Free agent quarterback JaMarcus Russell tested positive for codeine after the Raiders selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, ESPN.com reported. "I missed all of training camp, so I didn't get tested when all the other guys got tested," he said. "I had a prescription from a doctor, but it wasn't the team doctor." Russell said he has used codeine without a prescription but said he has not used the drug in three years. When asked about Russell's positive test, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, "No comment." The Raiders released Russell in May, and he was arrested in July in connection with possession of codeine.
Browns: Free agent offensive lineman John Malecki signed but terms weren't disclosed. … Tight end Joel Gamble was waived.
Chargers: Star outside linebacker Shawne Merriman signed his $3,269,000, one-year tender, admitting his two-week holdout didn't accomplish anything. He won't play in tonight's preseason opener against the Bears.
49ers: Running back Glen Coffee left the team, saying he no longer wants to play football. In a statement released by the team, the second-year player said, "I feel it is best for me that I move on from football."
Patriots: Defensive end Ty Warren will miss the season with a hip injury after being placed on injured reserve.
McNabb solid: Quarterback Donovan McNabb went 5-of-8 for 58 yards in two series and hit Anthony Armstrong for a 4-yard touchdown in his debut for the host Redskins, who rolled to a 42-17 win over the Bills. Meanwhile, Buffalo running backs Fred Jackson (hand) and Marshawn Lynch (ankle) were injured, and coach Chan Gailey said Jackson will miss at least the rest of the preseason.
Eagles 28, Jaguars 27: Quarterback Kevin Kolb went 6-of-11 for 95 yards as host Philadelphia rallied. Jacksonville backup Luke McCown, a former Buc, threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns.
Falcons 20, Chiefs 10: Former Mississippi and Largo High standout Dexter McCluster, a second-round pick, made a few dazzling moves as a tailback and a slot receiver for visiting Kansas City, running five times for 25 yards and catching three passes for 22.