Wide receiver Sidney Rice left little doubt that a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee affected his second season in the NFL.
"Yes. Definitely. A whole lot. That was the main thing for me this year, my knee," Rice said last week. "That's one thing I'm going to have to work on getting it healthy. I want to come into Mankato this year with no injuries and try to keep it like that throughout the season."
Rice, a second-round draft pick in 2007, started his career with 31 catches for 396 yards and four touchdowns while battling an ankle injury during his rookie season. Even with that, he finished tied for second in the league among rookie receivers with four touchdown catches and tied for third for the longest touchdown catch (60 yards) with rookies from his class.
But all that success in 2007 only led to frustration in 2008. Rice started the first two games of the season but suffered his knee injury in Week 2 against Indianapolis and was never the same. He was inactive for three games, but he largely tried to play through the injury, which may have cost him more time in the end.
If he would have taken more than two consecutive weeks off, he might have been closer to 100 percent when he returned.
"It probably could have helped. The couple games that I did try to play in, it was no more than four or five snaps. I think it was like five games I played on it four or five snaps because of the knee," he said. "Like I say, I'm going to work on it for the offseason and be ready for Mankato."
His season high for catches was three against Jacksonville in late November. In 2007, he had a seven-catch game against Green Bay. His longest catch in 2008 was a 23-yarder in the season opener against Green Bay. In 2007, he had a 60-yard touchdown against the New York Giants.
It all added up to probably the most frustrating two years of his football life.
"I would say it has. I don't think I've ever missed this many games, period. As far as I can recall, this has been the worst as far as injuries and things like that," he said.
While he says he wasn't ever able to get up to full speed after his Week 2 injury, he did find some positives in his performance. He was able to maintain some production close to the goal line.
"I think I was able to help the team in some ways. I caught a couple of passes, maybe half of what I caught last year but the same amount of touchdowns," he said. "It slowed me down a whole lot."
Rice doubted he would need surgery, calling instead for just a couple of weeks of rest and time with his family and close friends before starting his preparations for the 2009 season.
"I'm going to take a couple of week off, just let the body rest. Then back to work," he said. "Football is year-round. You've got to do what it takes during the offseason to keep your body ready for during the season and throughout the season. I'm going to get started up here in a couple of weeks."
And hope it's the beginning to a much healthier, consistent and productive 2009.
Knee injury ‘definitely' hindered Rice's 2008
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