Rice wants more of the same in second half

WR Sidney Rice is having a breakout year and he expects to continue the progress in the second half of the season. The receiving game has become more balanced, and Rice credits Brett Favre for that.

The first two seasons that Sidney Rice played in the NFL were marked by both the promise of big things to come and the frustration of injuries that slowed his growth as a player. But in his third season, Rice has blossomed into the type of go-to receiver the Vikings believed he could be when he was drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft.

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."

FRIDAY NOTES

  • Brett Favre was also limited in practice Thursday, as he continues to heal from his hip/groin injuries. Favre suffered the groin injury during the week of practice leading up to the Nov. 1 win over Green Bay and tweaked the injury during pregame warm-ups.

  • The Lions could be without two of their starting linebackers. Both Larry Foote (knee) and Ernie Sims (hamstring) missed a second straight day of practice and are looking more and more doubtful to play Sunday.

  • After some concerns before and during the bye week, Sunday's game is officially a sellout.

  • Thursday's loss to San Francisco may have been the official burial of the Chicago Bears, who dropped even farther behind the Vikings with a hideous 10-6 loss to the 49ers. Jay Cutler threw five interceptions in the loss, as the Bears fell to 4-5 after getting off to a 3-1 start and are now 2-4 against the NFC. Cutler, who was hailed as the golden child coming into Chicago, has thrown a whopping 17 interceptions in nine games.

  • The rumor has been floated that Chester Taylor, who becomes a free agent following the season, could end up in Washington. Why he would want to play for the Redskins is another story.


    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.

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