Sidney Rice (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty)
Sidney Rice and Cedric Griffin started training camp on the PUP list, sidelining them for the opening practice. Surgery was an option that Rice and the team agreed to turn down after he saw some specialists.
Sidney Rice ran through individual and team drills at June’s minicamp and didn’t appear to have any serious injury. But outward appearances were apparently misleading.
Rice was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list to start training camp because of a hip injury he suffered in the NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints and flared up again at minicamp.
“We’re taking it easy, being cautious. That’s what the plan is and we’re going to stick to it right now,” Rice said after the Vikings’ first training camp practice Friday afternoon. “We’ll take it day to day, see how things go and hopefully we’ll be out here as soon as possible.”
Rice saw a few specialists, and at least a couple of them agreed that surgery could be avoided.
“He was seen by not only our doctors, but a couple of different specialists,” Vikings coach Brad Childress said. “We decided we didn’t want to be as aggressive as you could be, with a surgical procedure. I think he will be okay. That is what the doctors wanted to do with it.”
Surgery was considered after training camp, and Rice said it would have put him out of commission four to six weeks. That would have put him close to being ready for the start of training camp.
“I think all those specialists saw the same thing. As opposed to going under any different form of knife, we went with a different strategy,” Childress said.
Said Rice: “A couple of guys thought I should have had it, but didn’t need it necessarily. The plan now is just to rehab and get everything back like it’s supposed to be.”
Despite the timeline, Rice said he doesn’t regret not having surgery.
“I’ll be fine. We’ve still got time before the season starts up. Like I said, we’re going to take it day to day and rehab, try to strengthen everything and hopefully everything will be fine,” he said.
Rice has had issues with an ankle and posterior cruciate ligament in his first two seasons, but last year he had a breakout, Pro Bowl season. He had a team-high 83 catches for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns.
He has been a player that possesses the big body, good leaping ability and solid hands, but staying healthy was an issue until last year. Now he’s back to wondering about his status while running for the training staff on a third practice field while his teammates practice on the main two.
“He’s basically doing non-loading type of stuff so far,” Childress said. “We’re going to just accelerate his time on the ground out here. His cardio and that type of thing and we’ll see how he responds to that.”
Rice said he is affected most when he is cutting or coming in and out of his breaks, but he’s keeping an optimistic outlook.
“We’re still going to take it one day at a time. It feels good, but not all the time when something feels good – that doesn’t mean it’s right, right then,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see.”
Be he wasn’t going to wait too long. He said there is “no doubt” he’ll be ready for the regular-season opener, a Sept. 9 rematch against the Saints.
The injury news wasn’t all bad. Linebacker E.J. Henderson, who fractured his femur in December, was on the field and said he felt good. He rotated with Jasper Brinkley taking turns with the first-team defense.
As expected, quarterback Brett Favre was a no-show. “He needs time, he gets time,” Childress said.
Besides Favre not showing and Rice and Griffin on the PUP, all other players were practicing.
Free-agent acquisition Lito Sheppard started at right cornerback in Griffin’s absence. Asher Allen also got some turns with the first-team defense.
Play of the day: Rookie quarterback Joe Webb connected on a long pass down the left sideline with receiver Jaymar Johnson. Rookie Chris Cook was in coverage, but the pass was placed perfectly.
Second-round draft pick Toby Gerhart, the last Viking to sign his contract on Friday, was in camp and practicing, mostly with the second-team offense.
The Vikings practiced in shorts and helmets Friday afternoon for a little over an hour, but they will put on the pads for their first two-a-day practice tomorrow morning. The morning practice is scheduled for 9-11:15 a.m. and the evening practice from 7-8:55 p.m.