Sidney Rice (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)
The Vikings have a roster spot available just in case they want to play Sidney Rice, but Rice and Brad Childress are both saying that’s unlikely for Sunday. Plus, get the injury report (Percy Harvin is still not practicing) and other notes.
Sidney Rice is getting closer to returning to game action for the Minnesota Vikings – closer by the week for sure and maybe by the day.
The Vikings activated Rice off the team’s physically-unable-to-perform list earlier this week and he began practicing on Wednesday, looking like he was ready for full speed action. But Rice wanted reporters to slow it down.
“Whenever I’m able to protect myself (I can play). This is a violent league and I definitely want to be able to protect myself,” Rice said Thursday. “No timetable has been set. It’s how I feel after the workouts and things like that. (I) will continue to progress.”
Rice said that he would “most likely” rule out playing on Sunday and head coach Brad Childress said Rice “most probably” wouldn’t be ready either, but the Vikings still have a roster spot open for him after placing Randy Moss on waivers and not filling that final spot.
Rice practiced again on Thursday and Childress said he was “looking good.”
“(He) was sore today coming back, which you’d anticipate. Kind of like the first day of training camp,” Childress said. “All of his recall, nothing, his hands haven’t been hurt by the hip surgery or anything like that. He’s jumping in where he can. I don’t really have a timetable yet. He can’t make it this week most probably. But he’s coming. He’s working at it.”
Teammates and coaches were at least encouraged to see him out there practicing once again.
“It brightened my day, just to see him out there. He is a friend first, one of my good friends. We came in together,” running back Adrian Peterson said. “Just to see him back out and moving around and having in my mind, ‘Hey, it’s getting closer for him to be out here and be a part of the team and help us finish going after this goal.’ I’m excited for him.”
Rice admitted that becoming the player he was last year, when he made the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career, would take a while. He’s not in football shape yet and is learning to trust his surgically repaired hip – he had surgery on Aug. 23.
“It’s going to be tougher. Last year coming in I was in great shape, but I was healthy,” Rice said. “Now of course I’m coming off a hip injury and it’s going to take time. I’ve got to get back in shape. I want to play the game and be in great condition and be able to stay in the game and help the team in any way possible. It’s going to take a little time.”
The Vikings, however, may not have that time. They are 2-5 and looking to rebound in the second half of the season. They are trying desperately to find their winning ways of 2009 after losing three out of their last four games.
And now the receiver corps is desperate for an infusion after the release of Moss and Percy Harvin not practicing yet this week after twisting his ankle Sunday against the New England Patriots. Still, Rice isn’t feeling the pressure to return quickly.
“No pressure, no pressure on me at all. I want to be back. Just as I wanted to be back when Randy was here, but it’s going to take a little time,” he said. “I’ve got to get healthy and be 100 percent when I’m out there.”
After practicing on Wednesday for the first time since June, Rice said he could feel the effects.
“That’s the most I’ve done in a while. I’m real sore, real tight in the area,” he said. “A lot of stiffness, but I’ve been stretching out. I want to go out there today and see what I can do.”
Childress said the team isn’t concerned about re-injury, but they are just erring on the side of caution.
“He’s cleared to go. He’s cleared and wide open. That’s the thing. There’s not anything where he can’t run an out-cut to your right (or) he can only run a post to your left. So he’s cleared completely,” Childress said. “It’s just getting back up in football shape and speed, that type of thing, with bodies in front of him.”
Rice said he hasn’t had any setbacks in his rehabilitation and continues to put the hip on ice, go in the hot tub and use other forms of rehab, but he said he’s done with his visits to Vail, Colo., where the surgery was performed. Now it’s up the healing powers of nature and the trainers as to when he’ll be ready for action.
HARVIN STILL OUT
Quarterback Brett Favre (ankle/foot/chin) returned to practice Thursday on a limited basis, but his top remaining receiver, Percy Harvin, still hasn’t practice this week after suffering an ankle injury Sunday against the Patriots.
Harvin returned to the Patriots game after twisting his ankle on his first catch, finishing with six catches for 104 yards, but he has been struggling with it this week.
“Not much progress,” Childress said of Harvin Thursday. “He was out today and we’ll see if he can do anything tomorrow.”
Joining Favre for practice on a limited basis were CB Chris Cook (quadriceps), OL Chris DeGeare (ankle), LB Ben Leber (knee), CB Lito Sheppard (hand), CB Frank Walker (hamstring), and DT Pat Williams (elbow).
Childress said Favre was “limited in what he did, but he looked just fine.”
For the Cardinals, LB Clark Haggans (groin) did not practice. WR Steve Breaston (knee), WR Early Doucet (groin) and RB Beanie Wells (knee) were limited.
The Cardinals got DT Alan Branch, LB Will Davis and DE Kenny Iwebema back up to full participation on Thursday after being limited Wednesday.
The release of Randy Moss will likely impact the Vikings in various ways. Peterson is one of the players that expects to get more attention.
“Probably so. I am sure we will have some guys still try to double Percy,” Peterson said. “He is a guy you need to watch too. We’ll see, but I am pretty sure guys won’t hesitate to put an extra guy in the box.”
Peterson is optimistic at that Vikings can overcome their slow start.
“Just having a good coaching staff and just this organization. As a team, our goal is still at hand,” Peterson said. “We have a lot of leaders on this team that are walking around with their heads up. We have faith that we believe, ‘Hey, we control our own destiny.’ Nine games. We’re looking at it as a nine-game season, eight NFC opponents. It’s still out there for us to accomplish our goal that we set forth at the beginning of the season. It’s just like a new start. It’s putting this thing behind us and not worrying about the past and focusing on the future. As a team, I feel like we’re going to overcome and put ourselves into position to capture that goal.
After Harvin expressed disappointment at the release of Moss, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said he spoke with Harvin on Wednesday to encourage him.
“There’s nothing that you can do about the personal relationship that the guy had,” Bevell said. “I understand how he felt and how he was able to get close to Randy and felt like he was gaining as much knowledge as he could from a guy that had a lot of experience. He felt like that helped him. My job is to continue to encourage him, tell him, ‘Here’s what we’re still trying to do. Here’s how you can continue to help us. Here’s what we’ll do to make sure that everyone doesn’t just focus on you now.’”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of 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.