Sidney Rice (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)
Vikings coach Brad Childress didn’t get into specifics of Sidney Rice’s hip injury, but he did answer questions about when the Vikings first knew of the problem and the protocol since then.
The concerns over the ailing hip of Sidney Rice took a severe turn Monday when it was announced that Rice had surgery to repair the hip and would be out until midseason at best.
On Tuesday, head coach Brad Childress addressed some of those questions – most of which centered on a Watergate-esque “what did you know and when did you know it?” line of questioning.
While Childress was clear that he isn’t a doctor, he is even less specific with a hip injury – reminding reporters that at training camp he stepped to the side of the podium and made a general description of the hip without getting into specifics about potential muscle, tendon or bone damage.
If there was any good news to be gleaned from the incident, it was that the surgery wasn’t a massive opening of the hip. Instead, it was an arthroscopic procedure that was minimally invasive.
“That is how they do those (types of surgery) – through an arthroscope,” Childress said. “There will be two puncture sites as far as I know.”
Childress said Rice could remain on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) and didn't completely rule out injured reserve as a worst-case scenario.
There has been a growing sentiment that the late divulging of the injury was more of a contract-posturing move instead of a football decision. When asked if he believed the decision was based more on business than football, Childress said he wouldn’t go along with either potential explanation.
“I don’t know if I would term it any way,” Childress said. “As I talked to Sidney, I can’t feel what he’s feeling. In the end, it’s up to him whether he wanted to have that procedure or whether he could press through. You guys saw him run out here the other day and move around. It was more than a nag, to where he couldn’t sluff it off and wanted to remedy it by having a procedure.”
Rice has said that he sustained the injury in the NFC Championship Game at New Orleans in January, but Childress said, as far as the team was concerned, he or the medical staff hadn’t been informed of anything until May, despite head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman visiting with Rice this spring.
“Sug actually (visited with Rice) in March and had lunch with him down in Miami,” Childress said. “He seemed to be doing OK. He didn’t mention anything. The first that we found out more about the hip was the day before the mandatory minicamp.”
Rice attended the minicamp and went through practices, but talked about discomfort in the hip, which hasn’t gone away since. When asked about published reports saying that Rice had seen three specialists at that at least two of them had recommended surgery, Childress said that wasn’t accurate. In fact, he stated that the conventional wisdom was that surgery might be a last resort to be used only if the injury didn’t heal naturally – which it clearly has not.
“(It was) not recommended, they were targeting treating it less aggressively,” Childress said. “Could he have put his hand up and said, ‘No, let’s do it (have surgery)?’ Yeah, he could have, but usually you err on the side of, before you open somebody up, guys want to see if it can rectify itself by itself. Could they have done it? They all would have done it, but they recommended a conservative course.”
Whether the team knew the full extent of the injury well in advance of this summer remains unknown, but one certainty is that Rice will be sidelined until late October at the earliest and quite possibly longer. As a result, the Vikings are looking toward their other receivers to pick up the slack for their missing No. 1 receiving target. Childress said he knows that the questions will continue to be posed as to whether the surgery should have been done earlier and that he isn’t satisfied with the current prognosis.
“Am I satisfied?” Childress asked. “No, I’d really be satisfied if he was out here running around here on the football field. But that’s not the reality of it. (We took a) conservative approach. You can second-guess that.”
Rice wasn’t at Tuesday’s practice and neither was receiver Percy Harvin, who still has some medical tests to pass before he’ll be cleared to practice. Linebacker Chad Greenway and defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy, who started for Pat Williams in the first two preseason games, were also missing.
Ryan Longwell made a 54-yard field goal with a slight wind at his back at the start of practice. The kick was over the crossbar by a few feet and inside the right upright by a few feet.
The Vikings are now wearing Verizon patches on their practice jerseys, a move that was approved by the NFL last year.