Sidney Rice (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)
The Vikings finally got their ace quarterback back in town, but problems persist at wide receiver. The latest is a report that Sidney Rice could have surgery on his hip soon and miss half the season.
In the end, it might have taken some convincing from teammates but Brett Favre returned for a second season with the Vikings.
The future Hall of Fame quarterback did what many expected by skipping the opening two weeks of training camp that were held in Mankato and rejoining the Vikings shortly thereafter.
This year Favre arrived in the Twin Cities on Aug. 17, a day earlier than he came to town a year ago, and then suited up and started for the Vikings at San Francisco five days later. He logged four snaps in Sunday night’s preseason game against the 49ers.
With Favre back in place, the Vikings again will be expected to contend for a Super Bowl berth. However, there are some real concerns that remain for this team and its offense.
Two of the biggest involve wide receivers Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, who finished 1-2 on the Vikings in receptions a year ago.
Entering the Vikings’ second exhibition game on Sunday in San Francisco, Rice had yet to take part in any training camp practices because of a hip injury that he sustained in last season’s NFC title game. He remained on the physically unable to perform list and now a report in the Star Tribune, citing people with knowledge of the situation, says that surgery is likely for Rice and he could miss the first half of the season.
Rice is entering the final season of his rookie contract and the fact he is due to make only $550,000 also was believed to be a factor in his decision not to rush back.
Rice said last Friday that he still feels, “a little bit of pain,” when he goes full speed and isn’t sure if he will be ready for the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against the Saints.
Up until that point, he had expressed confidence that he would be ready to go for that game. Rice’s presence was key to Favre’s success last season as he led the Vikings with 83 receptions for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns en route to earning a Pro Bowl spot.
Rice, who often used his 6-4, 202-pound frame to his advantage against smaller cornerbacks, added 10 catches for 184 yards and four touchdowns in two postseason games.
Harvin, meanwhile, also has done very little work in training camp as the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year in 2009 continues to suffer from migraine headaches.
Harvin’s grandmother passed away in late July, causing him to leave the team, and he did not return for 15 days after an issue he has had since he was 10 years old flared up.
Harvin returned to the Vikings on Aug. 16 but collapsed on the practice field last Thursday because of a severe migraine. Vikings coach Brad Childress knows there is no quick fix. Harvin dealt with migraines last season, missing several practices and a game, and at one point went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
“I don’t know if we’re going to solve that riddle immediately,” Childress said.
Without Rice and Harvin, the Vikings top receiver is Bernard Berrian and No. 2 on the depth chart behind him would be Greg Lewis, followed free agent Logan Payne. The Vikings worked out free agents Brandon Jones and Javon Walker late last week but did not immediately sign either.
Vikings coach Brad Childress was asked about a report by Yahoo! Sports that cited multiple team sources as saying Favre’s disdain for the coach runs deep.
“I don’t know that much about journalism,” Childress said. “I know that most people write with a source. You can ask Brett about that. I’m probably biased in how I look at it. You can ask anybody on our football team. How do I look at it? You don’t like it, but you deal with it. You sit at the top, everybody knows who they are shooting at. So they can say whatever they want to say and make an argument for it.”
One of the big issues surrounding Favre’s potential return for this season was the status of his surgically repaired left ankle. However, Favre seemed to downplay how much it hurt last week. He did admit that a new bone spur was found in an X-ray he had while visiting his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, in Florida two weeks ago.
“There is a little pain in there,” Favre said. “But the fact is it’s just something you have to deal with.”
Childress did not hide the fact he wasn’t happy with the punishment Favre took in last season’s NFC title game from the New Orleans defense. This included some late hits.
Favre was seen carrying a bucket as he got out of Ryan Longwell’s car last Tuesday after getting a ride to Winter Park from his friend. So what was in it?
“Metamucil. Calcium. All my essential vitamins,” Favre joked. “No, it was actually protein powder.”
C John Sullivan has missed much of training camp because of a calf injury but is expected to return to practice Tuesday. Jon Cooper received valuable work with Sullivan out.
RG Anthony Herrera has been getting work with the third team at center just in case the Vikings ever need him.