EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — All signs are pointing to Sidney Rice returning to the Minnesota Vikings this weekend.
He’ll probably have to, if he wants to play at all this season.
The running mystery about Rice’s status is down to the final days, three months after he had hip surgery. Vikings coach Brad Childress said Friday if the wide receiver is not activated from the physically unable to perform list for Sunday’s game against Green Bay, Rice will likely be placed on injured reserve and done for 2010.
Rice declined several requests for comment in the locker room after practice, but he told an ESPN reporter that he plans to play against the Packers.
Rice has been practicing with the team for the last two weeks and must be moved to the active roster by next Wednesday for him to be eligible at all this season.
“I am pushing to be out there,” he said earlier this week.
Childress said that Rice’s soreness is “not as bad as last week” and that the determination on his status will be made after Saturday’s practice. The Vikings have held a spot open on their active 53-man roster since dumping wide receiver Randy Moss, and since fully clearing Rice for action they’ve left the final decision up to him.
Rice, in the last season of a four-year contract he received after being drafted in the second round by the Vikings in 2007, broke out last year with the arrival of quarterback Brett Favre and racked up 1,312 yards receiving with eight touchdown catches. Rice balked recently at the suggestion he’s taking his time with his recovery to avoid getting hurt in a contract year.
Wide receivers Bernard Berrian (groin) and Percy Harvin (ankle) had joined Rice on the sideline by the end of last week’s loss to the Chicago Bears, leaving the Vikings dangerously depleted at that position. Berrian did more work in practice this week and was listed as questionable on the injury report for Sunday.
Childress said he wasn’t prepared “to crown him ready,” preferring to wait and watch Berrian run a full-speed deep route before choosing to use him against the Packers. He was active for the Bears game but aggravated the injury and didn’t play.
Harvin is less of a concern. He’s listed as probable.
“I think it’s just going to be something that continues to twinge on him every now and then,” Childress said.
Despite their dire 3-6 record, the Vikings appeared loose on the practice field and in the locker room this week — giving off a nothing-to-lose vibe. Childress, who said again he has not spoken with owner Zygi Wilf about his job status, was relaxed and in a joking, story-telling mood Friday.
Defensive end Jared Allen turned to a TV camera as he discussed the crowd-noise advantage the Vikings have in the Metrodome, smiling as he spoke to the fans: “Please don’t boo us. I know we haven’t won but we’ve given you some good years the last couple years, too.”
Allen maintained the all-is-not-lost approach.
“It’s the same old story. We have the capability and talent to right the ship. We just have to do it,” Allen said.
Special teams player Eric Frampton (hamstring), a backup safety, is doubtful for the Packers game, and two starting offensive linemen are questionable: center John Sullivan (calf) and right guard Anthony Herrera (elbow). Cornerback Asher Allen (concussion) and backup safety Jamarca Sanford (hamstring) are probable after missing the Bears game.
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