Randy Moss didn't make the kind of impact that everyone envisioned when the Vikings traded for him Oct. 6. In four games he caught 13 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
He had one vintage Moss catch, a 37-yard touchdown against the New York Jets in his first game back with the team. But he didn't give the offense that vertical passing option that they envisioned when they brought him back.
However, there's no denying Moss opened the middle of the field for Percy Harvin on underneath routes and also helped the running game. Look at how the Patriots defended Moss the entire game Sunday.
Safety Brandon Meriweather lined up 20-25 yards deep on Moss' side every play, all but eliminating his vertical speed. But that created room for Harvin and others to work the middle of the field. With Moss no longer part of the equation, the wide receiver corps again lacks that vertical threat.
That should change in a few weeks when Sidney Rice returns from hip surgery. Rice is working out every day with wide receivers coach George Stewart and the athletic training staff.
Per league rules, Rice must begin practicing with the team by Nov. 9, which is expected to happen barring any setbacks, and then they must active him in three weeks or place him on season-ending injured reserve.
But it's still hard to know how effective Rice will be when he returns. Will it take some time for him to catch up to the speed of the game and get his timing down again? That seems like a reasonable expectation.
Until then, the Vikings likely will start Harvin and Bernard Berrian on the outside with Greg Lewis, Greg Camarillo and Hank Baskett providing depth on the outside and in the slot.
Remember too that Harvin has a left ankle injury and might not be able to practice much this week.