Sidney Rice was quick to agree with Cris Carter's assessment from Wednesday.
Rice, the third-year Vikings receiver, worked with Carter and others for two days last summer after receiving an invitation from Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald. On Wednesday, Carter recounted those workouts and was critical of where Rice was at with his progress as a wide receiver entering his third year in the NFL.
"I worked with receivers at all levels and I pretty much have seen it all," Carter said Wednesday after Vikings practice. "But for him to be going into his third year in the pros, what I was trying to tell him is he should have been far more advanced – like, you don't even know what it is to be a pro receiver. How many balls did you catch this week? What kind of drills do you do after practice?' He's a young kid. They're just trying to survive and make it. When they get to the NFL, at the end of the day they don't know to stay extra. And with being injured he was very, very frustrated."
Carter admitted he was "brutal" when giving Rice his assessment of the current Vikings receiver. Asked about it Thursday, Rice agreed that Carter was brutally honest.
"It was pretty crazy. He grilled me a little bit. Larry was saying the whole time, ‘You gonna let him talk to you like that?' I just told him I'd wait 'til the season and I'm going to prove him wrong," Rice said. "I'm the type of guy that takes criticism and I use that for the good. I actually use that for the motivation as I was working out."
It seems to have worked. Rice struggled through a knee injury last year that caused him to miss three games and a sprained ankle his rookie season that caused him to missed four games.
He had 31 receptions for 396 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie and 15 receptions for 141 yards and four touchdowns last season.
In 2009, his career finally took off. He ranked second in the NFC and fourth in the NFL with 1,312 yards receiving on 83 receptions – all eclipsing his previous career totals – and eight touchdowns. Those numbers earned him Pro Bowl honors.
"I knew what I was capable of doing all along. It was just a lot of people were doubting me and things like that," Rice said. "My main thing was to stay healthy and be able to be out there on the field and perform at a high level."
Count Carter among Rice's doubters last summer, especially after Rice missed the first two days of those workouts with Fitzgerald, Greg Jennings and DeAngelo Hall at the University of Minnesota. Carter didn't know why Rice missed the first days and he didn't care. He just wondered about his work ethic and technique.
"When he showed up on the third day, I'm like, ‘I don't care who you are. You ain't nobody to me.' When we started doing the drills, I was like, ‘Whew. Wait a second. You don't do any cone drills after practice? You don't do any footwork (on the) sidelines?'" Carter said. "I was like, ‘You're not a pro receiver. I know you're not eating right. I know you're not getting the proper rest. I know you're not spending any extra time in the weight room.' I'm like, ‘What are you doing?'"
What he was doing was learning how to become a professional receiver.
"It was great work for me. It showed me a lot of new things about the game." Rice said.
"You have to work. That's one thing I learned working out with those guys – Cris and Larry. Those guys, they have the talent but their work ethic is just amazing. I learned that from those guys. That's why I'm always out here after practice catching extra balls, running, sprinting to the end zone on the last play of each period. It's not just myself, it's the other guys that are around and that's what makes this team so good."
Rice started last offseason by working out down in Miami for a few weeks with former University of Minnesota players Marion Barber (now a running back with the Cowboys) and Dominique Barber (now a safety with the Texans). That was before the Vikings' organized team activities (OTAs) started in Minnesota in mid-March.
Once OTAs were finished, Rice got the call from Fitzgerald inviting him to work out with his crew.
After another impressive performance – tying an NFL postseason record and setting a Vikings playoff record with three touchdown receptions – against the Cowboys, Rice said he has the same offseason plan for 2010.
This time, Carter likely will see a more "professional" receiver standing in front of him.
Editor's note: Cris Carter talked more in-depth about what he saw out of Sidney Rice and comparisons people have made between Rice and Randy Moss. Carter held no punches. Subscribers to VikingUpdate.com can see the entire extensive interview right here.
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.
Rice agrees: Carter was ‘crazy'
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