After a 31-reception and 4-TD rookie season, Vikings WR Sidney Rice began his NFL career playing at a high level and was validating his status as a 2nd-round draft pick.
But then the injury bug bit early in his sophomore season a year ago and his progression was slowed. As we mentioned on the blog last week, Rice worked hard in the offseason and after 2 consecutive games with TDs this season in Weeks 3 and 4, Rice seemed to be taking the next step in his progression.
Although he didn’t find the endzone on Sunday, we received more confirmation that Rice has stepped up his game. A line of 3 receptions for 61 yards might not jump out at you – although a 20.3 -yard per catch average is tremendous – but it’s when and how he made a couple of those grabs that should catch your attention.
Rice’s 1st catch of the afternoon came on the Vikings 1st play from scrimmage – an 11-yard strike on a slant route that gave the Vikings a nice start to their opening drive. Eventually, that series ended in a TD and allowed the Vikings to build an early 14-0 lead. Rice’s 2nd reception was of highlight-reel caliber, as he battled Rams CB Bradley Fletcher for the ball deep down the right sideline for a 47-yard gain. That play eventually helped lead to another Vikings TD.
Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress cited several reasons when asked about Rice’s progression and trend of quality performances.
“The biggest thing that I see is he’s healthy,” Childress said initially. “He was not a healthy player last year; he was hurt in Game Two and never quite got all of his faculties back. I think you’re seeing what a healthy guy can do and he’s developed a good rapport with the quarterback.
“He’s (Brett Favre) put the ball up and allowed him to try and make some plays, whether it’s a play in the back of the endzone or a play that results in pass interference. And then he’s coming up with some catches with people standing next to him. He’s playing at a high level right now and he’s blocking at a high level.”
Tags: Sidney Rice
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