Glass-half-full theory on PUP moves

The Vikings placed WR Sidney Rice on the PUP list, but they had time to grab replacements for him. The Packers may be even worse off in the PUP department.

The Vikings may have taken a step closer to winning the NFC North Division title Tuesday without playing a game.

To the surprise of few, given the timetable for his recovery from hip surgery, the Vikings placed Sidney Rice on the physically unable to perform/reserve list. As a result, Rice didn't count as a roster spot as the Vikings reduced their roster to 75 players. But, it also meant that he can't return until after the Vikings sixth game, which, thanks to an early bye week, comes in Week 7 of the NFL season. His anticipated return coincides almost perfectly to that target date.

The reason why the placement of Rice on the PUP/reserve list is good news for their division title chances is because it was something that had been known for more than a week. The Vikings used that time to trade for Greg Camarillo and signed street free agent Javon Walker to help cushion the blow of the loss. With the first cut-down date – from 80 players to a modest 75 – on Tuesday, teams were protecting players they are still evaluating by keeping roster spots open and placing players on the PUP/reserve list. Other teams around the league – most notably the Green Bay Packers – did the same.

On Tuesday, the Packers announced that starting cornerback Al Harris, safety Atari Bigby and running back James Starks were all placed on the reserve/PUP list. While Bigby, a former Packers starter, is now a backup, both were expected to be key contributors to the Packers secondary. Insiders knew that Harris, who has been M.I.A. throughout the preseason, was injured, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy had repeated that Harris was getting close to returning. With both of them out, the Packers are weakened in an area they can ill-afford to have problems. The loss of Cedric Griffin for the Vikings led to the signing of Lito Sheppard and the drafting of Chris Cook. The Packers don't have such an advantage heading into the season. Tramon Williams steps into the starting spot.

The Packers' loss is the Vikings gain, so, even though Rice got put on the PUP/reserve list (which was little more than a formality), the Packers' listing of Harris and Bigby has to be viewed as an advantage for the Vikings heading into the regular season.


  • Amid growing speculation that he might be starting opening night against the Saints, the meniscus injury to Chris Cook may take him out of the running for a starting job long after he returns to active duty. If either Lito Sheppard or Asher Allen can step up, they could hold the job until such time that Cedric Griffin returns, which could leave Cook – who was a standout from the first day of training camp through the preseason – as the rookie odd man out as far as playing time early is concerned.

  • To get down to the 75-man limit, the Vikings released tackle Bill Noethlich and wide receiver Marko Mitchell.

  • Given the Brad Childress experience with running backs like Brian Westbrook, the availability of Derrick Ward, released Tuesday by the Buccaneers, might get some brief discussion/consideration. It isn't likely given the Vikings needs for roster spots elsewhere, but he would be another weapon. He signed a big free-agent deal with the Bucs just last year, but didn't fit in the plans anymore – despite having the same coaching staff that brought him to Tampa in the first place.

  • For those who believe that the Vikings are looking to trade Sage Rosenfels before Saturday's final cutdown date, the Vikings may have some significant competition. Word out of Arizona is that former first-round Wunderkind Matt Leinart is available. However, given the fat portion of his rookie contract is coming due, Rosenfels might be a more logical (and inexpensive) option for a potential QB suitor.

  • The Giants may have become a suitor for either Leinart or Rosenfels. On Tuesday, New York placed backup Jim Sorgi on injured reserve, leaving unproven Rhett Bomar as the No. 2 quarterback.

  • Other noteworthy players put on injured reserve Tuesday included New England CB Leigh Bodden (rotator cuff), Washington wide receiver Malcolm Kelly (hamstring) and Giants wide receiver Sinorice Moss (sports hernia).

    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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