Sidney Rice not sure he's ready, acknowledges future is 'huge' factor
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Little more than 24 hours before Saturday's 3 p.m. deadline, Minnesota Vikings receiver Sidney Rice said he hadn't made up his mind about whether he'll declare himself ready to play on Sunday at Chicago.
"I'm going to see how I feel (Saturday) after a week of practice," said Rice, who returned to practice last week for the first time since undergoing hip surgery on Aug. 23.
"I did pretty good Wednesday, Thursday and (Friday), but I'm just going to see how it feels (Saturday)."
The Vikings are in a somewhat precarious position, because they cleared Rice for full participation on Nov. 3 and are ready to move him from the reserve/physically unable to perform list to the 53-man roster.
However, the team is waiting on the green light from Rice, who has made clear he's looking out for his long-term prospects as he prepares to play out the final months of his rookie contract.
"The decision is up to Sidney when he's going to jump back in," said coach Brad Childress, who repeatedly referred to Rice as "questionable" for Sunday.
Coming off a Pro Bowl season in 2009, Rice waited to have surgery on an injury he first suffered in January's NFC championship game until 2½ weeks before the regular-season opener. Now, with his half season already gone, Rice knows that playing poorly or suffering a setback could harm his value on the open market.
"It's huge," Rice said, referring to his future. "Definitely, I want no setbacks, but I also want to help this team as much as I can."
The other question within the organization is how effective Rice can be after missing so much time -- and no one has a clear answer.
He's looked good in practice the past two weeks, plus an impressive workout before last week's game at the Metrodome. But he's yet to take a hit, and there is a sense it will take the balance of the season for Rice to regain his conditioning, rhythm and timing.
"I feel like I'm still on the same schedule -- just not as fast, not as quick, don't have that explosion that I used to have at this point," Rice said. "But it's getting better, it's coming back. Just like (Thursday) I opened it up. I'm going to continue to progress and ramp it up."
Rice said he was "a little sore" after going full-tilt on Thursday and acknowledged he's not yet 100% -- which is one more reason to believe he might wait. The Vikings have a roster exemption that allows Rice to practice without counting against the 53-man roster until Nov. 24.
There's no question the Vikings could use reinforcements. Starting receivers Percy Harvin (ankle/illness) and Bernard Berrian (groin) were listed as questionable on Friday's injury report, though both seem likely to play against the Bears.
Told of Childress' logical statement that his snaps probably would be limited at first, Rice disagreed -- and provided one more indication he's not rushing to get back on the field.
"When I'm out there on the field, I want to play every snap I can play," Rice said. "I don't want to be limited. I want to be able to help the team as much as possible.
"That's another thing -- I don't want to hurt the team in any way. We're in a critical position right now. We need all these wins. I don't want to just throw myself out there knowing I can only get 10 plays and we have another receiver down that could have helped the team out a lot more."