Notebook: Sidney Rice will open season on PUP list, miss at least 5 games
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- It's official: Sidney Rice will open the regular season on the physically unable to perform list.
The Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday moved their top receiver from active/PUP to reserve/PUP, making him ineligible to practice or play until at least the season's seventh week.
The Vikings have a bye in Week 4, so Rice could play as soon as their sixth game on Oct. 24 at Green Bay -- although he probably won't be ready by then.
At any time during a three-week window beginning Oct. 19, Rice can begin practicing. Once he does, another three-week window opens, by the end of which the Vikings must decide whether to activate Rice or moved him to injured reserve. So, the final deadline is in advance of the Vikings' 12th game, Dec. 5 against the Buffalo Bills.
Given the nature of his injury and the recovery timeline, it remains to be seen what role Rice -- who turns 24 on Wednesday -- will be able to play if and when he returns to the active roster.
As long as Rice is on reserve/PUP, he doesn't count against the Vikings' active roster.
The Vikings made the move on Tuesday to help them comply with the NFL's 75-man roster reduction, which was due by 3 p.m. They also waived tackle Bill Noethlich and receiver Marko Mitchell and waived/injured linebacker J Leman.
Even with three veterans ahead of him, rookie quarterback Joe Webb is more confident than ever there's room for him on the Vikings' roster.
"I'm pretty sure there is," the sixth-round pick said. "Coaches really ... liked what I did so far. So, I'm just going to continue to do what I do."
In three preseason appearances, Webb is 12-for-21 passing (57.1%) for 91 yards with two touchdown throws, no interceptions and a 99.5 passer rating. He's also rushed for 78 yards on seven carries (11.1 average), including a 48-yard touchdown scamper at San Francisco.
That play is one reason the Vikings surely are worried about Webb getting claimed if they try to slip him through waivers and onto the practice squad -- even though he has a long way to go to function under center in an NFL offense.
"Looking down the field more, make sure I go through my reads, hitting my guys when they're first open," Webb said. "It's a lot different from college ball -- the windows are a lot smaller."
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was complementary of rookie Chris DeGeare, who started Saturday's exhibition at right guard. But Bevell indicated the prospect of starting a rookie on the road in the opener could factor into the plan if center John Sullivan (calf strain) isn't ready.
"That would probably be the toughest environment, that game, going in to New Orleans," Bevell said. "But if that's how it shakes down, then we're confident enough to go with it. I think we're still kind of feeling out that position.
"Exactly what would be the best lineup? Is it moving Anthony Herrera over and putting Chris in? Is it using Jon Cooper and leaving Anthony at guard? Or even if John Sullivan is going to be back -- we still have a little bit of time to decipher that."
Bevell said Sullivan will "be fine conditioning-wise, because they're still working on him with that, whether it's in the pool or those other things they can do with him. We'll just have to see if (the calf) can hold up."
• Childress didn't address reporters, but Bevell indicated no decision has been made on playing starters on Thursday. "The guys performed pretty decent early in that game," Bevell said. "He'll end up making that decision here, probably pretty quick."
• Bevell said third-down halfback duties "may end up having to be by committee," including starter Adrian Peterson and backups Albert Young and Toby Gerhart. "We've been trying to go kind of like that, in terms of getting all three of them ready, seeing what the strengths and weaknesses are of all those guys," Bevell said. "We haven't had Albert in there all the time on third down to take a look at how he handles it, or to see how fast Toby can pick it up. I think it's still formulating itself right now."
• Bevell downplayed the significance of the lubricant injection QB Brett Favre received in his surgically repaired left ankle after Saturday's game. "He's not the only one that takes those," Bevell said. "I know that they have helped some people and they feel comfortable with it. I think it helps them move around a little bit and take some of the soreness out. I don't know if it's going to end up being a normal thing or not, or if it was a one-time deal."