Rice, who had some difficulty adjusting to the revolving door at quarterback, said his biggest issue was injuries – which prevented him from reaching his full potential.
"So much about playing is getting timing down with your quarterback," Rice said. "Last season was really frustrating because I was never at 100 percent. I got hurt during training camp and spent the rest of the year trying to catch up. This year, I came in 100 percent and have felt a lot better about how I've played."
Through eight games, Rice leads the Vikings in receptions (37) and yards (585). He is on pace to catch 74 passes for 1,170 yards – both of which would be franchise highs since Randy Moss posted 111 catches in 2003. Rice said much of the credit belongs to Brett Favre, who has found a way to spread the ball around effectively. The Vikings currently have five players on pace to catch 40 passes and running back Adrian Peterson isn't far behind – on pace to catch 38 passes himself. Rice said that is a testament to Favre's ability to find the open receiver and make plays where there doesn't appear to be an opening.
"That's just part of him knowing the game," Rice said. "He's great at reading defenses and he knows all the coverages. He's been around a long time and doesn't get fooled by what the linebackers and corners do. He's great at looking them off and putting the ball where they can't get to it. I think all of the receivers have become very comfortable with how he throws the ball and we go into each play knowing that it may be coming our way."
As big as Rice's first half of the 2009 season, he said he's expecting even more in the second half. He didn't tell fans to get their popcorn ready, but he did say he intends to continue making the circus catches that have made him a highlight-film regular in the first half of his breakout season.
"I feel it's what I'm supposed to do," Rice said of making the spectacular catch. "Sometimes it excites me, but I think it's more exciting for the fans. I'm just trying to improve, and getting more chances only makes the team better. I just try to catch every pass thrown my way. I think I've earned Brett's confidence and that will show in the second half of the season."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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.