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.
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.