MANKATO -- The Vikings were without their top wide receiver on Friday afternoon as they opened training camp.
Coach Brad Childress said in a pre-practice news conference that Sidney Rice will open camp on the physically unable to perform list because he isn't completely recovered from a hip injury he suffered in last year's playoffs. "He's been doing a lot of running in water on a treadmill but we wanted him to work on his conditioning and his movement on land because that's where we're playing the game," Childress said. "We're not playing it in the water."
Word first surfaced that Rice was dealing with a hip problem a few weeks back when his agent Drew Rosenhaus tweeted that information. At the time, Rice told Star Tribune staff writer Chip Scoggins that he would be ready for the start of camp.
Rice, who battled a knee injury in his second NFL season in 2008, had a breakout year in 2009, catching a team-high 83 passes for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns.
Asked why Rice is still dealing with the effects of an injury suffered last winter, Childress said: "I don't know, I think probably the word linger speaks to that. Why is it lingering? Because it's still uncomfortable for him. He was seen by not only our doctor but a couple of different specialists and we decided we didn't want to be as aggressive as you could be. In other words, a surgical procedure. I think he'll be OK. I may stand corrected on that but that's what the doctors wanted to do."
Rice took part in the Vikings' minicamp in June and Childress said the hip problem has "flared up from time to time." Rice has seen three specialists to be exact and Childress said the receiver went to see the final doctor after that minicamp.
Childress said surgery "would have been a serious option," after the minicamp and admitted it was definitely considered. Childress said that if Rice had undergone the procedure at that point he doesn't believe Rice would have been lost for the 2010 season.
Not surprisingly, cornerback Cedric Griffin (ACL) also will open training camp on the physically unable to perform list. Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson, who is returning after breaking his femur last December, will be active as camp gets underway. That is remarkable considering many thought Henderson's career might be over when he broke his leg at Arizona.
Players starting training camp on the PUP are in a different situation than players starting the regular season on the PUP.
Rice and Griffin, for instance, will be allowed to rehab and take part in meetings but can not practice. The move does not impact their status for the regular season, and they will count against the 80-man limit. Players placed on the "reserve" PUP at the end of the preseason aren't eligible to play for the first six weeks of the season and don't count against the 53-man roster.