Childress: Rice will miss 'at least eight weeks' before resuming practice
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings supported Sidney Rice's "conservative approach" to his hip injury in the offseason, coach Brad Childress said on Tuesday, and the decision to undergo surgery that will sideline him at least two months was Rice's alone.
"I can't feel what he's feeling," Childress said, a day after Rice had the surgery at a Colorado clinic.
"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, and obviously, he felt like it was enough of a -- more than a nag to where he couldn't (shake) it off, where he wanted to remedy it by having a procedure."
Childress also laid out a seemingly more dire timeline than had been reported, saying it will be "probably at least eight weeks before we're talking about doing anything," and wouldn't rule out the possibility of Rice landing on season-ending injured reserve.
The latter approach would be so extreme it came across as a veiled threat to Rice, who first sustained the injury in January's playoffs and apparently experienced a setback during the Vikings' June minicamp. Moving him to the reserve/physically unable to perform list, which would give the Vikings a roster exemption to start the season, is the far more likely scenario.
According to Childress, Rice was dealing with an unrelated medical issue early in the offseason and received a visit from head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman.
"'Sug' actually was down in March and had lunch with him down in Miami and (Rice) seemed to be doing OK, didn't mention anything," Childress said. "Really, the first thing we found out more about the hip was the day before the mandatory minicamp."
Childress then seemed to take a shot at Rice's conditioning, saying the discomfort the receiver evidently felt during the minicamp may have been "because of inactivity."
The coach disputed reports -- based on Rice's own comments during training camp -- that two specialists recommended surgery, saying it was a mutual decision between the player and the team to go with a less aggressive approach.
"Could he have put his hand up and said, 'No, let's do it?' -- yeah, he could have," Childress said. "But usually you err on the side of, before you open somebody up, guys don't want to do -- you want to see if it rectifies itself by itself."
Childress declined again to discuss the nature of the injury -- he did say it was fixed arthroscopically -- but did address several topics of speculation surrounding Rice's injury and surgery, including:
• The lag between the initial injury and when Rice revealed it to the team: "You basically believe that it was going to rectify itself. We obviously didn't see enough to where guys have offseason cleanups and things like that. ... 'Sug' saw him in March, dealing with a subsequent medical issue, and none of us have X-ray vision or anything like that. You just go by what somebody tells you."
• Whether the decision to have surgery was related to Rice's expiring contract, which will pay him $550,000 in base salary this season, or was strictly a football decision: "I don't know that I'd term it any way."
• Whether the team could have known in January the injury was so significant: "I don't know. We do a decent job of vetting those guys before they leave. But I'm not aware of anybody that brings their whole team back in and gives them a top-to-bottom scan or an X-ray or anything like that. Do we see if things will clear up? Do we wait a couple, two or three weeks to see if it gets better? In some cases, we do. But typically, if there's a surgery required, we try to do it in pretty quick order after the season. Required, I think, is the key word."
The Vikings were even more short-handed again on Tuesday, as Percy Harvin continued to sit out while awaiting more tests following his on-field collapse last week. Javon Walker, signed earlier in the day, did make his practice debut.
Childress said the team discussed moving quarterback Joe Webb back to receiver but decided against it.
"We'd have been working with a rough piece of clay there," Childress said. "Obviously, he's a superb athlete, but he needs work in what he's doing right now."