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Vikings Take Rice Off PUP List

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 20, 2010 – 3:00 pm

A breakout player from the 2009 season is one step closer to helping the Vikings break out of a 1st-half slump in 2010. The Vikings on Saturday took WR Sidney Rice off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and have added him to the 53-man roster.

Rice has been on the PUP list since training camp and has been working his way back to action after undergoing hip surgery just before the regular season. He’ll join a WR corps that includes 2009 rookie of the year Percy Harvin and veterans Hank Baskett, Bernard Berrian, Greg Camarillo and Greg Lewis.

While this move does not necessarily mean Rice will play on Sunday – he could be declared as 1 of the 8 inactive players – all indications are that he’ll suit up against Green Bay. ESPN’s Ed Werder reported on Friday that Rice told him he’s set to play this weekend plus Rice has been practicing with the team for a few weeks now and he’s looked increasingly ready to play.

The Vikings did not have to make an accompanying roster move to make room for Rice because they were down to 52 players heading into Saturday.


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A Couple Post-Practice Notes

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 19, 2010 – 1:10 pm

We’ll wait until the injury report comes out in a bit to go into details on who will and won’t play on Sunday. In the meantime, there are 2 topics to touch on from after practice today.

WR Sidney Rice – he remains on the PUP list after hip surgery. The Vikings must take him off the PUP by Wednesday or else he’ll be placed on Injured Reserve, ending his 2010 season. In theory, then, Rice could sit out this weekend’s game against Green Bay but then be activated by Wednesday and comeback later this season, as soon as next Sunday against Washington. But Childress indicated that if Rice is unable to play on Sunday he’ll likely be placed on season-ending injured reserve. So stay tuned on this one.

RBs Coach Eric Bieniemy – Childress said he has received a preliminary phone call regarding Bieniemy from representatives of the University of Colorado about their head coaching vacancy. Bieniemy played football at Colorado and has been rumored to be a candidate for the head job there. He was an original hire by Childress on this staff and has done a superb job, obviously, of working with RB Adrian Peterson.

“I do think highly of him,” Childress said. “I think he could be a coordinator in this league and before it’s over he could probably be a head coach in this league. I know what his recruiting skills are like; he’s an excellent recruiter and an excellent people person. Great, great teacher of offensive football. We’d hate to lose him but certainly, if he has the opportunity, it’d be hard to hold him back.”


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Vikings Getting Set To Battle Bears At Soldier Field

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 14, 2010 – 10:45 am

Vikings players have arrived at Soldier Field and many of them are on the field going through their initial warm-up routine in advance of today’ game, which will kickoff at 12:00 p.m. CT. As you’ve likely heard by now, WR Sidney Rice was not activated from the PUP list and therefore he will not be in uniform today.

While Rice will not play today, the good news is that both Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin will play. Berrian (groin) and Harvin (illness/ankle) were both listed as questionable and missed practice time this week.

In other news that fans will consider good, the Vikings have elected to wear the purple jersey pants. Last week the Vikings wore the purple pants with their home purple jerseys.

Right now we have partly cloudy skies with the temperature at 41 degrees and the win whipping on the field. The high for today is 49 degrees and the wind is supposed to be a steady 18-24 mph all afternoon. Stay tuned for Mr. Hippe’s Weather report just before kickoff for up-to-date weather info.

Also, don’t forget to join us for today’s live chat, which will begin just before kickoff.


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A Few Friday Fun Facts

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 12, 2010 – 9:52 am

While we’re waiting for head coach Brad Childress to meet with reporters for the final time this week in advance of the Bears game and while we’re also waiting word on the status of Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, let’s get through some easy reading. Here are a few fun facts for Friday morning…

– The Vikings and Bears will play for the 99th time in their series history on Sunday. The Vikings lead the all-time series with the Bears 52-44-2.

– Minnesota is 4-4 vs. the Bears since Brad Childress took over the team in 2006. The Bears swept the ’06 season. The Vikings bounced back and swept the ’07 series. The two teams split in 2008 and 2009, each winning their home games.

– Former Vikings Head Coach Mike Tice is currently the Bears OL coach.

– Childress is from Aurora, IL, attended college at the University of Illinois and Eastern Illinois, and coached at the University
of Illinois. Vikings DT Fred Evans is from Chicago and attended Morgan Park High. Vikings special teams coordinator Brian Murphy is from Elmwood Park, IL.

– Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier played CB for the Bears from 1981-85 and was a starter on their 1985 Super Bowl team.

– The Vikings win last week snapped a 4-game overtime losing streak and improved the team’s record to 17-3 in their last 20 games at Mall of America Field (2008-10).

– The Vikings-Cardinals game was the 3rd straight game in which the Vikings tallied over 400 yards of offense (10/24 at GB – 402, 10/31 at NE – 410, 11/7 vs. ARI -507).

– WR Percy Harvin ranks 2nd in the NFL with 1,228 combined net yards in 2010.


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Rice’s Return Gauged Step By Step

Posted by cjsiewert on November 10, 2010 – 2:18 pm

A pointed topic during Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress and QB Brett Favre’s press conferences Wednesday centered around the possible return of WR Sidney Rice for Sunday’s matchup against the Chicago Bears.

Rice has missed the entire season up to date after undergoing hip surgery during the preseason and was cleared to practice with the team last Wednesday. Rice’s eligibility last week started a 21-day period in which the Vikings must decide to place him on the active roster or Injured Reserve by Nov. 24.

“It’s not going to be a sole source deal where I say he’s playing,” Childress told reporters of Rice’s possible return. “He’s got a pretty good feel having played in this league. Even though he’s not going to flop on the turf out here or get caught in a nutcracker drill out here (at practice). Just that he’s got all the things he can do to play at the high level that he’s used to playing at, that he can defend himself, and that he’s going to feel okay about absorbing a hit.”

Childress has mentioned before that with any injured player there is a process in which they need to go through in order to get back onto the game field. And Rice’s return is no exception. The 4-year veteran has been practicing with the team since Nov. 4 and by gauging his range of motion, running and cutting abilities, it looks as if his hip has responded well to the surgery.

Rice’s return on Sunday at Soldier Field is possible, but the head coach acknowledged that if he were active against the Bears, he would be carefully integrated into the offense.

“I don’t think that it’s realistic that he can come right in and go 60 or 70 plays right away,” Childress said. “He’s been cleared for all activities right now, so the minute he feels that he can play, he can play.”

Favre kept a cautiously optimistic approach to Rice’s return on Sunday, but just like the rest of the team and fan base, wants to see the 6-4, 202-pounder return to form.

“I like the progress he’s making,” Favre said. “I wanted him eight, nine weeks ago, so he can’t get here soon enough. But I do want him, when he steps on for good, to feel confident that he’s not going to look back.”


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A Few More Notes From Monday’s Press Conference

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 8, 2010 – 3:30 pm

We’ve touched on several topics since the Vikings recorded a thrilling 27-24 overtime win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, from the warrior-like performance by Percy Harvin to the quiet dominance of the Vikings defense.

But there’s so much more to talk about and we’ll touch on a few more topics in this blog entry with some help from head coach Brad Childress’ press conference. Childress met with reporters for several minutes early Monday afternoon and he ultimately answered 25 questions. Here are a few important notes we jotted down…

Kluwe Kicking Well
Childress took time to mention specifically that P Chris Kluwe is playing well through the first 8 games.

“The guy that’s playing unbelievably now is Chris Kluwe,” Childress said. “That guy is kicking the ball lights out. It doesn’t make any difference what the numbers show. It’s just a matter of how many they’re getting a chance to legitimately return and how many he’s sticking down there where they have fully 80 or 90 yards to go. You can’t put a premium on that, particularly in field position games like that.”

We’ve discussed Kluwe’s solid play on several occasions here on the vikings.com Blog, but he continues to play well and impress. His gross punting average is 44.5, which is 12th in the NFL, but effective punting in the NFL is about hang time, net average and return yards allowed. I don’t have a way to measure hang time, but Kluwe ranks 3rd in net average at 43.3 yards and the entire punt coverage group ranks #1 in the NFL in allowing just 3.5 yards per return. On top of that, Kluwe has put 18 of his 36 kicks inside the 20, helping the Vikings gain an edge in the field position battle.

No-Huddle Offense Looked Good
I answered a question from a reader in today’s Monday Morning Mailbag about how effective the Vikings offense was in the no-huddle during the 4th quarter and whether the no-huddle might be something the Vikings try against Chicago this week. I don’t know if that’s something the Vikings will try, but Childress did tell reporters on Monday that the no-huddle is something the Vikings practice regularly and it’s also something Favre clearly looks comfortable executing.

Childress was also asked who calls the plays when the team goes no-huddle.

“It’s both,” Childress explained, saying that coaches will send a play to Favre when the ball goes out of bounds. “He has got a menu, as do we, that we practice for the two-minute, and sometimes we’ll trick his memory and there are times where he’s got to do it on his own.”

Infirmary Report
Childress was asked the status of several injured players, including Harvin and T Phil Loadholt. Harvin has been dealing with the injured ankle, of course, and Childress said Harvin will be sore but is also “no worse for the wear.” Childress said Loadholt is going to be fine; he left the game in the 4th quarter but came right back onto the field. S Jamarca Sanford tweaked a hamstring and Childress indicated that would be a day-to-day situation for this week.

Return of Rice
Perhaps the most asked question the last couple of weeks has been “When is Sidney Rice coming back?” The answer is still “I don’t know.” But it sound like Rice is getting closer and closer.

“He’s had some good practices out here,” Childress commented, “it’s just a matter of can you play wide-open and play in an NFL football game? It’s one thing to practice. It’s another thing when you’re going to get tackled to the ground.”

Rice has looked good in practice the last couple of weeks and he looked sharp while working out in pre-game workouts on Sunday. Time will tell when he can return; I’m cautiously optimistic it’ll be this week against the Bears, but the smart money might be next week at home against Green Bay. Stay tuned.

Big-Play Bernard
It was pleasing to see Bernard Berrian become such an important factor in the offense. He had 9 receptions for 89 yards on Sunday and came up with 3 clutch grabs in the 4th quarter and overtime. Childress mentioned on Monday that Berrian had a good practice week leading up to the Arizona game and that his chemistry with Favre looked particularly sharp.

“I saw Brett throwing it as well as he has thrown it all year long in that Thursday practice,” Childress said. “Very live arm, very accurate and then Bernard was kind of right there with him. Not that the other guys weren’t, but you could see him have a good week of practice. Both of those guys. It wasn’t surprising to see it carry over to Sunday.”


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Rice: 21 Days And Counting

Posted by cjsiewert on November 4, 2010 – 6:02 am

The decision to jettison Randy Moss to the waiver wire on Tuesday came as a surprise to many. But as Vikings QB Brett Favre told reporters on Wednesday, “In this league… you should never be surprised by anything.”

The Minnesota fan base has demonstrated it will miss Moss’ play-making ability on the field, but it can now look forward to another receiver’s return to practice who was a key factor to the Vikings success last season.

Sidney Rice returned to practice on Wednesday and showed encouraging signs of improvement, providing a pleasant sight after a span of days that could be simply described as turbulent.

Rice’s return means that the Vikings now have a 21-day period to evaluate his condition and must decide by the end of that period (Nov. 24) if they are to place him on the active roster or Injured Reserve (IR), which would end the Pro-Bowler’s season.

From what I saw during Wednesday’s practice – which wasn’t much – Rice seemed to have no complications running routes. Many of the routes he ran involved sharp cuts, which may indicate that his surgically repaired hip is responding to the rehabilitation.

Although Rice’s return to the practice field is a welcoming sight, don’t expect #18 to jump right back into the mix of things.

“He’s done everything that he can do from a rehabilitation standpoint,” Childress said Wednesday. “Not unlike us with Cedric (Griffin) getting out there. He needs to do football-specific things now that he can’t accomplish with a trainer…There’s going to be a conditioning aspect that’s got to be met. Obviously football’s a physical game, the pounding, running on the turf, the full-speed routes. We’ll just see how he comes through that.”

But if and when Rice does make a return to the playing field, WR Percy Harvin, who benefitted from Moss’ vertical threat, will undoubtedly welcome his presence in that same manner. Harvin’s numbers boosted from 35.3 receiving yards per game (YPG) before Moss’ acquisition to 71.8 YPG during the 4 games with Moss.

Childress never gave indication as to when the decision on Rice’s return would be made – other than it must be done within the 3-week time period – but it’s highly probable that Sunday’s matchup against the Arizona Cardinals can be ruled out. When looking forward, though, a return next week on the road against the Chicago Bears could provide a boost in an extremely important divisional matchup. In fact, if Rice were to return next week, he may just provide a spark in what will certainly be a decisive turning point in the Vikings season with back-to-back NFC North matchups – the Bears in Week 10 and Green Bay Packers in Week 11.

In his 2 matchups against the Bears last season, Rice averaged 72.5 YPG. Between the pair of games against the Packers, he averaged 55 YPG. Rice recorded 1 TD on both teams in those contests.

If the Vikings coaching and athletic training staff decides to use the entire 21-day period to move Rice to the active roster, his first game back on the gridiron would be on the road against the Washington Redskins, a team he has never faced.


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Sidney Rice To Return To Pracitce On Wednesday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 3, 2010 – 11:18 am

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress told reporters during his regular Wednesday press conference that WR Sidney Rice would return to practice on Wednesday. Rice remains on the Reserve/PUP list but now the Vikings have a 21-day period to evaluate Rice’s condition while he practices with the team; Rice will not count against the 53-man roster limit during this time.

Childress did not indicate what Rice’s particular status was in terms of playing shape nor did he say when he anticipates Rice to be able to play. But clearly it’s a great sign that Rice will return to practice.

Rice’s return to the lineup will give the offense a shot in the arm as they look to reverse a poor first half of the season and get back into the thick of things in the NFC and the NFC North.

NOTE: An earlier version of this entry stated that the Vikings would take Rice off the Reserve/PUP list today, but that is not the case. Instead, Rice will remain on the PUP list while also returning to practice.


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Vikings Infirmary Report

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 2, 2010 – 6:41 am

In light of the Vikings decision to part ways with WR Randy Moss, the player whose injury status will be under the spotlight is Sidney Rice, who remains on the PUP list after undergoing hip surgery just before the regular season.

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress hasn’t given an indication on how close Rice is to returning and Rice himself has not given a timetable when asked by reporters. Perhaps Childress will be asked about Rice’s status during his regular Wednesday press conference, which you can watch live on vikings.com.

Until then, though, there are other injured Vikings players to talk about and that’s what Childress did during his Monday press conference. Here’s an update on a few of those players…

QB Brett Favre (ankle/foot, chin) – Going into last weekend’ game against the New England Patriots, the big question with Favre was whether or not his injured ankle/foot would allow him to play. Obviously it did, but coming out of the Patriots game the injury concern dramatically shifted from Favre’s ankle/foot to his chin. Favre took a hit directly to the chin and was knocked out of the game in the 4th quarter. The wound required 8 stitches to heal and following the game reporters wondered if Favre had suffered a concussion.

Asked on Monday if there was any doubt Favre would start this weekend’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, Childress said, “I don’t think so. I just saw him in there doing some leg curls. Typically, if you’re concussed we’re not doing any exercise today; we’re not doing an exercise challenge.”

WR Percy Harvin (ankle) – Harvin was the Vikings leading receiver against New England with 6 receptions for 104 yards, but he did all of that after tweaking his ankle in the 1st quarter. It appeared as if Harvin rolled his ankle after making a catch and it was clear he was in pain after the play. Harvin obviously returned and he told reporters after the game that it was adrenaline that enabled him to keep playing.

“He was in there treating as well today,” Childress said. “Sore. How it will be on Wednesday when we come back out here and practice? I’m not sure. He’ll certainly have to treat today or tomorrow.”

CBs Chris Cook and Frank Walker – Both Cook and Walker were banged up late in last weekend’s game and Childress was asked about their status.

“They’re banged up and receiving treatment today,” Childress said. “Hopefully they make it to Wednesday.”


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Childress Updates Status Of Injured Vikings

Posted by cjsiewert on October 20, 2010 – 1:23 pm

As the NFL has made a point to deem “devastating blows” unacceptable and worthy of distributing hefty fines for such hits, it’s a reminder to coaches, players and fans alike how violent the sport of football can be at times. And with a violent sport comes injuries.

The Vikings –not unlike any other team in the league – have dealt with the injury bug on many different levels. But 3 key players were pointed topics in head coach Brad Childress’ Wednesday press conference.

Vikings regular starting C John Sullivan has been plagued with a nagging calf injury since training camp and his participation has taken a hit as a result. Both backup Cs Ryan Cook and Jon Cooper have seen time in place of Sullivan, but Cooper eventually landed the replacement role.

After Childress’ press conference, it seems as if Sullivan is making strides towards getting back into the starting position but isn’t ready for an entire game.

“Right now I would say that would be a tag-team deal,” Childress said of Sullivan and Cooper’s playing time. “We’re going to rep those guys equally in practice and see how Jon comes along. As you here me say often, it’ll be how he comes back tomorrow and how he feels, but both those guys are going to take snaps in there, he and Cooper.”

Another unit that’s dealt with injuries is the secondary. CB Cedric Griffin is out for the season with a torn ACL while rookie Chris Cook is currently dealing with a knee injury. On top of the injuries to those 2 key CBs is Vikings starting S Husain Abdullah, who encountered a head injury against the Dallas Cowboys. Abdullah’s timetable to return isn’t clear, especially with the league taking extra precautions regarding head injuries.

“As of right now, I’m foggy on it as is he foggy,” Childress acknowledged of Abdullah’s return. If Abdullah is unable to return, Childress said he’d take a look at both Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford.

Perhaps the most anticipated return from injury is that of WR Sidney Rice, who is rehabbing from hip surgery. Rice was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list prior to the season, barring him from play until Week 7. Although Rice could be removed from the PUP list this week to play against the Packers, the Pro Bowler still has a ways to go before he can step onto the field with full certainty that his hip has healed.

When asked if Rice was at a point where he could participate with the team, Childress simply acknowledged, “he’s not.”

“He still going through his treatment,” Childress said. “At such time he can get out there, then we have to declare that. Then he’s got three weeks from that point when he’s physically out there practicing, taking practice turns. Now, he can do some land training. Whether it’s walking, whether it’s jogging on the turf or on the grass, but we’ve got three weeks from when we feel like he’s able to come back and practice, but we have to take a look at him. And you know there’s football shape and there’s conditioning shape.”


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