Last week, the Vikings activated Rice from the physically-unable-to-perform list. He practiced with the team from Wednesday through the end of the week, but on Friday Rice said he wasn't playing and he was right.
"He's had some good practices out here – it's just a matter of, can you play wide open and play in an NFL football game?" Childress said. "It's one thing to practice. It's another thing when you're going to get tackled to the ground, and what you've got to rely on is he's on that PUP list for a reason. He's practicing.
"You've got to listen to him a little bit in terms of where he is. He's going to be sore, but he's the guy that's got to sift it out and know if he can get in and go, because we're not going to tackle him to the ground here. We just don't do that in-season."
Both Rice and Childress said throughout most of last week that he was a longshot to play against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, and Rice said he was sore most of the week. Childress said Rice never verbally expressed to him that he wasn't ready to play, but the coaches and trainers weren't convinced that Sunday was the right time.
"He didn't acknowledge it verbally at all. You just see what you see and you kind of judge it from there, but I think he's very close," Childress said. "Whether he's close enough to play, whether it's another week, it's hard to say right now."
The Vikings are coming off a career-high 446-yard passing performance from quarterback Brett Favre, and Rice and Favre quickly established a rapport last year, their first season together. It's probably no coincidence that was also Rice's first Pro Bowl season. He had career highs in receptions (83), yards (1,312) and touchdowns (eight).
Most likely, his first game back wouldn't produce a 60-snap effort, Childress said, but it's possible the Vikings begin to ease him back into the lineup this Sunday in Soldier Field.
NO OFFENSE TAKEN
Childress said he didn't have a meeting with owner Zygi Wilf after yesterday's win to clarify his job status. Childress' job was in jeopardy after a rough week that featured the release of future Hall of Fame Randy Moss without the initial input of ownership or the front office and several stories of locker-room tensions.
After the game, several veterans said they weren't playing to save Childress' job, but the coach didn't take an offense at that sentiment from his players.
"The big thing is, I preach that to them – you play for each other, for your brother on your right and your brother on your left. That's the way it is," Childress said. "That you're doing the right thing, that you're competing, that you're doing everything for the guy on your right and the guy on your left. We talk about that all the time – play for each other, that's the big thing."
Linebacker Chad Greenway said on Monday that he doesn't care if ownership makes a statement one way or another regarding Childress' job status going forward.
"Not at all. I think you guys (media) want that, obviously, because you continue to prod at me. But it's not what it's about. It really isn't," Greenway said. "What it's about in this league is stringing a couple, two, three, four, five wins together to be in a position at the end of the season to make the playoffs. That should be the focus. It shouldn't' be anything else. Hopefully that's all in the past and we can continue to move forward now."
"None the worse for wear. I don't think that he feels any worse than he felt last week," Childress said Monday. "He's still sore, but he's in there treating and he's going to be sore.
"Tough guy, and had a big block on one of those last two outside runs, kind of set us up in overtime," Childress said.
"He's had a nag here and there before that he's come back from, but we'll just have to see how he makes it through the week," Childress said. "I've seen him strain that thing before and make it be the end of the week, but he's got to be able to play wide open."
"Al's had a great, great career. No, I don't know if there's a spot right now for us in that area," Childress 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.