Vikings WR Rice hoping to kick the sticks

Wide receiver Sidney Rice is hoping shed his crutches next week after a follow-up appointment, but he's not ready to put a timetable on his return.

Sidney Rice is still on crutches, but he's hoping to kick the sticks soon.

After having surgery on his ailing hip Aug. 23, Rice is scheduled to see his specialist at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colo., next Monday, at which point he's hoping he can begin walking on his own.

"He's going to take another look at it to make sure everything's good and I'm going to continue to progress from there," Rice said Monday while making his way through the Vikings locker room.

Rice said it might take a couple days to wean off the crutches, and he's not putting a timetable on any of the ensuing mileposts in his recovery.

"I'm following doctor's orders. I'm not trying to mess anything up. The last six weeks I haven't put too much pressure on the leg at all. No more than 20 pounds. That's my limit and I'm going to stick with it," he said.

"I actually got up on the scale, put my foot up there to see how much it weighed. I try to do everything right. I put my foot up there, 20 pounds. It's not going to be 20 pounds exactly. Sometimes I'm sure I'll put a little more on there, but it's going well right now."

The 6-foot-4 receiver provides Brett Favre an option that no other target on the Vikings can replicate. Last year, Rice had 1,312 yards on 83 receptions (15.8-yard average) and eight touchdowns.

With him, the Vikings offense averaged 379.6 yards per game and 259.8 yards passing last year. He is the only starter missing from last year's offense, and through two games the Vikings are averaging 328.3 yards per game and 185 in the passing game. Favre also has six interceptions already after throwing only seven during the entire 2009 regular season.

Rice continues to do exercises in the pool and is increasing the length of those workouts, but he's being cautious about putting too much pressure on the joint, which he initially injured in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 24.

"Everything is going well at this point," he said. "I'm feeling good, walking, walking in the pool, doing exercises and things like that. Right now, I'm just ready to get off these crutches."

Rice is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list after the Dallas Cowboys game on Oct. 17, but at this point that seems optimistic.

In the meantime, he's trying to keep his lower-body strength up. He said he is still able to do lower-body lifting like hamstring curls, leg curls and quads twice a week.

"I'm not losing too much strength in the weight room," he said.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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