Notebook: Wade Impressed with Rice

Sidney Rice is a rookie, and a young rookie at that, but the body of his training camp work has impressed veteran receiver Bobby Wade. See what Wade had to say about Rice's skills and how they can best be used, and get notes and quotes from Sunday's back-to-work day.

Wide receiver Bobby Wade can look around at the teammates at his position and see a lot of youth.

He can also see a lot of potential, especially in rookie wide receiver Sidney Rice, who will turn 21 years old on Sept. 1 and was the first receiver Wade singled out when asked if anyone in particular had impressed him.

"Sidney Rice, being a rookie, and not just a rookie but a young rookie, with his age and where he's at in his life, it's incredible to see him be able to perform like he has," Wade said. "He's going to be a guy that you're definitely going to have to watch this year because he's going to make some big plays for us. I was really excited to see him and his willingness to work. Even when you had a little soreness, he came back like a professional and was able to work at a high level."

Rice returned from an injury sustained early in training camp and has played in each of the team's two preseason games without missing a practice since. Rice's initial preseason performances have been far from eye-popping – he caught only one pass for a 1-yard gain in the preseason opener and had two catches for a combined 14 yards against the New York Jets on Friday night, but his playing time has also been limited.

It wasn't a fast start to the second-round picks career, but Wade has seen much more from him in practices. There are specific things that have impressed the veteran about the 6-foot-4, 200 pounder.

"I think his competitiveness and as far as him being able to use his body," said Wade, who at 5-10, 180 pounds is used primarily as a slot receiver. "He's big and physical and he used that to his advantage. He's able to out-jump people. He's able to shed off defenders when they're behind him – that's often hard to do when you're not really in tuned to doing that. That's what he's going to need to do in the NFL."

In particular, Rice could especially benefit the Vikings' red zone offense. In college, he had no trouble finding the end zone, catching 23 touchdowns in 24 games in only two seasons at South Carolina.

"Absolutely, he'll be a guy that we're looking for down there (in the red zone)," Wade said. "We'll dial him up when we get a chance to do that and obviously we've got a couple other guys that can do that too – Billy McMullen with his stature, tall, and being able to do that. I think the group as a whole brings a lot of different flavors and personalities, which is really going to come into play when it's time for the game. Guys are really eager about getting their own game within this offense and we've been doing a good job about it."

Rice said earlier in training camp that he's learned from both veteran receivers like Wade and veteran defensive backs that he practices against every day.

"It's a fast game out here and you've got to be decisive. You've got to know what you're doing at all times. Route-running, blocking, everything counts," Rice said. "One thing affects another thing in this offense. If you take the wrong angle on a block, you're going to affect something. If you miss the man, he might make the tackle to win the game. Everything affects something else."

NOTES

  • Cornerback Mike Hawkins (ribs) and tight end Richard Owens (ankle/knee), who were both injured Friday night in the Jets game, did not practice Sunday afternoon. Neither did offensive lineman Adam O'Connor (knee) and defensive tackle Fred Evans, who was signed early last week and did not play in Friday's game. Evans has been dealing with legal issues from past arrests. Head coach Brad Childress didn't specify when he expected Evans back at practice.

    "Without knowing the nuances of the court system, again, I think he's fighting through some paperwork here, and we've been in pretty constant contact, but there are a couple things paperwork-wise that they're trying to get straight. You can't fight city hall in that area," Childress said.

  • Linebacker John Kerr (back) returned to practice after missing most of last week.

  • Prior to Friday's 37-20 victory, the Vikings had never beaten the Jets on the road in four previous attempts.

  • Childress said he thought defensive ends Erasmus James and Khreem Smith would see their first action of the preseason Saturday night in Seattle.

    "We would like to see them in some live snaps, and I feel like they will able to do that, although we will hold off until the end of the week, but that certainly is the plan," he said.

  • The plan for Saturday is to play the starters into the beginning of the third quarter, and Childress indicated that would probably include quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Despite limited passing for Jackson so far this preseason – he is 10-for-15 for 95 yards with no interceptions or touchdowns – Childress said he won't overemphasize the passing game Saturday night.

    "Do I want to throw it every snap this first half? No. I want to do what it takes to win the football game. That is the way we always head out," Childress said. "We'll script those plays the same way we do, but it's not like I am looking to see him throw it on his 50 plays that he is in there 50 times. I get to see that every day out here, so I have a decent idea."


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