Notebook: 'Enthusiastic' Sidney Rice open to return, Frazier says
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings have made clear they want Sidney Rice back, and the standout receiver apparently is open to the idea, even if he intends to test the market.
Coach Leslie Frazier revealed on Tuesday he spoke with Rice during the brief time the lockout was lifted in April "and he was enthusiastic about maybe signing back with the Vikings. But he still wants to explore opportunities, and you can't begrudge him for that, being a free agent."
Whether Rice, a four-year veteran, actually becomes an unrestricted free agent remains to be seen. The NFL's next labor agreement will dictate the years of service needed, and the ongoing lockout has left the 24-year-old's status up in the air.
There also is skepticism around the league about how much Rice will command on the open market, given that his career has been plagued by injuries, including hip surgery and a concussion that limited him to six games and 17 receptions last season. He's played more than 13 games only once, when he broke out with 83 receptions for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns in 2009.
Despite speculation to the contrary, the Vikings have said they have no concerns medically with Rice, and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, recently wrote on Twitter his client "is in the best shape healthwise ever."
Said Frazier, "We'll just have to kind of wait and see what happens. Obviously, we'd love to have him back in Minnesota."
Peterson expresses faith in Ponder
Halfback Adrian Peterson made an appearance on ESPN2's "SportsNation" to promote a videogame and addressed several Vikings-related topics, including rookie quarterback Christian Ponder's chances for starting immediately.
"Seeing that we took him with the 12th pick, I'm going to have faith in him," Peterson said. "I watched him a little bit at Florida State, so I really don't know too much about the guy. But I heard he has all the intangibles."
The two met recently at a charity golf tournament hosted by Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, and Ponder told Peterson he already had new coordinator Bill Musgrave's playbook.
"He should be ready to go," Peterson said. "He's a smart guy. The one thing I've noticed about his game is he's very accurate. His accuracy is there. We'll see how he contributes."
Gov. Mark Dayton met for about 90 minutes on Tuesday afternoon with Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, Ramsey County officials and legislators in what the governor called a productive meeting about the latest developments in the team's stadium push.
The meeting came one day after the Vikings and Ramsey County released a joint proposal for funding $131 million in off-site road upgrades -- widely considered the biggest hurdle remaining to bring forward a bill for the proposed $1.057 billion stadium project in a special session of the state Legislature later this month.