Tag:Sidney Rice
Posted on: August 23, 2010 4:02 pm
 

Vikings close to signing Javon Walker

J. Walker and B. Favre shown here during happier times (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The scenario Will told you about the other day – the Vikings possibly signing Brett Favre’s old buddy (but not really), WR Javon Walker – seems to be on the verge of occurring.

According to ESPN.com , the Vikings plan to sign Walker, an eight-year veteran who’s spent the past two seasons in Oakland. Or, more accurately, has spent the past two seasons disappearing in Oakland.

Walker had his best success – an 89-catch, 1,482-yard, 12-touchdown year that resulted in Walker’s only Pro Bowl berth – when he was catching passes from Favre in Green Bay during the 2004 season.

But the next year, he held out during training camp. A move that did not sit well with Favre.

"If Javon wants to know what the quarterback thinks, and I would think he might, I'd tell him he's going about this the wrong way,” Favre said at the time. “When his agent tells him not to worry about what his teammates think and all that stuff, I'd tell him I've been around a long time and that stuff will come back to haunt you."

Walker suffered a bad knee injury in Week 1, and the next season, he found himself in Denver. He had a good season there in 2006 (69 catches, 1,084 yards, eight TDs), but since then, Walker has been a shell of his former self, combining for 41 catches and one score in the past three seasons.

I imagine Walker – who said a few months ago he’d be willing to play for the veterans minimum salary – would welcome a chance to play with Favre again, considering he’s been a non-factor four of the past five years he’s played. Besides, six of Favre’s targets caught 25 passes or more from him last season.

Don’t expect Walker (shown at right during happier times with Favre) to hang around too long, though. Right now, the Vikings receiving room is pretty bare without Percy Harvin (migraines) and Sidney Rice (hip). Assuming they return, though, Favre most likely will be throwing to receivers with whom he actually gets along.

And Walker most likely will have to contemplate retirement.

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Posted on: August 18, 2010 10:24 am
 

How much more $ will Favre make this year?

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

We haven’t posted anything on Brett Favre in, oh, about 17 hours. Which is a blatant violation of the Facts & Rumors mission statement (the punishment, of course, is having to wear Wranglers out in public for two hours). So, that’s our bad. And to make up for it, here’s a new Favre post even though he hasn’t done anything new since Tuesday.

There’s been some talk about how much more money Favre will receive from the Vikings to play this season. Originally, that number was a $7 million raise from $13 million to $20 million. Now, says Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star Tribune , that number might be closer to a $16.5 million base (and another possibility for $3.5 million of incentives thrown into the mix to reach, you guessed it, $20 million).

Of course, Favre says it’s not about the money, and maybe that’s true for him. But it’s not for the rest of his teammates. Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com makes a good point when he writes there are plenty of other Vikings who want a pay increase as well.

(It’s) a team that has three starters entering the final years of their contracts: linebackers Chad Greenway and Ben Leber, along with defensive end Ray Edwards. No known discussions are underway with any of those players, nor do the Vikings appear close to deals with another trio of players who have made noise about a possible extension, including running back Adrian Peterson, receiver Sidney Rice and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe.

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Posted on: August 10, 2010 10:50 am
 

The curious case of Sidney Rice

S. Rice's hip has not allowed him to practice yet this season (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

We told you the latest with Percy Harvin’s possible migraine headaches , but perhaps a bigger unknown is what’s going on with Vikings WR Sidney Rice’s hip.

The Minnesota Star-Tribune today calls the Rice issue “a curious case.”

People don’t doubt that Rice’s hip is injured, but you also have to remember that, after an extraordinary year (83 catches, 1,312 yards, eight TDs) and a big improvement on his first two seasons in the NFL, he’s making a $550,000 base salary this year. Perhaps that’s part of the reason Rice has yet to practice during training camp.

Here’s where the Star-Trib gets suspicious:

Rice and the Vikings have declined to reveal the exact nature of the problem - no one outside of the organization knew he was hurt until Rice's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, tweeted about it last month - and there appears to be no timetable for his return. In fact, coach Brad Childress said last week that Rice was "a ways away from returning."

The situation is so vague that it has led to a growing feeling that Rice isn't rushing back in part because of a contract … with no escalators. Rice is in the last season of his four-year rookie deal that averages less than $1 million per year.

Rice, who has been doing dry-land training and rehab as his teammates go through practices, only stopped long enough Monday to say that anything involving his contract is between the team and Rosenhaus.

Without Harvin and Rice in the lineup – if this scenario were to occur – the Vikings would go from one of the best WR corps in the league to having to use Jaymar Johnson (one catch last year) and Greg Lewis (eight catches) more than they’d like. Bernard Berrian obviously is one of the top receivers in the NFC North, but without Rice and Harvin around, opponents could shut him down with double-teams and force a relative unknown WR to try to beat them.

And we STILL don’t know anything about Brett Favre.

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Posted on: August 5, 2010 5:21 pm
 

Tarvaris Jackson a different player now, he says

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

T. Jackson (far right) will start for Minnesota if B. Favre doesn't return. S. Rosenfels (left) and J. Webb (center) also will be at the position (AP). I was on the Around the League video segment with Lauren Shehadi this afternoon, and we talked about what would happen if the Vikings had to play with Tarvaris Jackson as their quarterback.

I said I thought he was a decent-enough player but the fact that Minnesota was trying so hard to woo Brett Favre back to the team was a pretty good indication of what the front office thinks about Jackson (upon reflection, this might not be a completely fair statement. After all, Favre is a first-ballot Hall of Famer coming off an amazing season. Of course , the Vikings would do all they can to get Favre back on the field.)

Yet, the Vikings have shown they don’t fully trust Jackson. True, he led the squad to an 8-4 record when he started during the 2007 season, but he didn’t look particularly impressive while doing it (he completed about 58 percent of his passes, threw for less than 2,000 yards and completed 12 interceptions against nine touchdowns).

I don’t think Jackson is a great solution, though my impression was formed during 2007. Jackson tells KFAN in Minneapolis (via sportsradiointerviews.com ), though, he’s a different player now than he was three seasons ago.

“I know I have grown a lot since then,” he said. “I feel like whenever I get my chance to go out there and play, I will prove it. It is easy for me to say it, I just got to go out there and show everyone. I understand the situation with everyone (who doesn’t) think I can do it, but it don’t really bother me a lot. As long as my teammates believe in me, I believe in myself. That is the big thing. If I believe in myself and stay confident and even-keel like I am, I will be fine.”

What works in Jackson’s favor is the number of outstanding skill players he has around him now. In 2007, he could count on running back Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns that season, but his best receiver was Bobby Wade. This year, the Vikings boast one of the best WR trios in the NFL with Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian. That’s quite a large difference in talent from three years ago.

“I feel like our offense has grown and we have just grown as a team,” Jackson said. “Our offense is together now and I feel like if I get a chance to go out there and play now, I feel like I would be a lot better.”

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Posted on: August 3, 2010 11:55 am
Edited on: August 3, 2010 12:12 pm
 

What happens to Minnesota without Favre?

T. Jackson likely would take over for Minnesota if B. Favre retires (Getty). If, as is being reported all over the place (and on the Facts & Rumors blog), Brett Favre does retire – and there’s some healthy skepticism that he will, no matter what he says – what happens with the Vikings offense?

Obviously, they’ve still got some of the best young wide receivers in the game with Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin. WR Bernard Berrian is solid and dangerous as a deep threat. Those guys will make a mediocre quarterback look better than he actually is. And running backs? Two words: Adrian Peterson. Meanwhile, second-round pick Toby GerhartChester Taylor’s replacement – is a Doak Walker Award winner who will take a few of Peterson’s carries, especially when Minnesota needs a physical inside runner.

At the skill positions, there’s no question the Vikings have the talent to win the NFC championship. The quarterback position is … well ... a different story.

If Favre retires, they’ll have a couple problem areas. First, Minnesota doesn’t have the greatest run-blocking offensive line – which is a bit surprising, considering the talent the team has on this unit – and without Favre, the Vikings will need to run the ball more effectively to make up for the lack of Favre-ian like talent at the signal-caller position (more on this below).

Favre, at least in my opinion, is still a top-five quarterback , especially considering the season he had last year (68.4 completion percentage, 4,200 yards, 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions), and Minnesota would lose one of the most important players in the game.

So, who would replace him? Most likely, it’d be Tarvaris Jackson – an athletic quarterback who hasn’t figured out how to become a successful NFL quarterback. He started 12 games in 2007, and though the Vikings went 8-4, he wasn’t particularly impressive. His accuracy was mediocre, and his decision-making was questionable. If you’re comparing him to Favre, Jackson is more mobile but not nearly as strong in every other facet in the game.

If not Jackson, the team could turn to Sage Rosenfels. He’s never been a full-time starter, and there’s a pretty good reason for that. In fact, if Favre stays, Rosenfels might be on his way out of town, depending on how rookie Joe Webb is performing in practice. 

Rosenfels is often too aggressive, leading to too many avoidable interceptions. He’s the prototypical backup. He doesn’t look bad on the sidelines while wearing a ballcap. But if you have to throw him in as the starter, that’s not a great thing for your team. Webb, meanwhile, was slated to be a wide receiver, but he’s played well enough in practice for the Vikings to keep him with the quarterbacks. At this point, though, you certainly don’t want Webb starting games for your team.

If Favre doesn’t return, like he’s apparently saying right now, the Vikings wouldn’t face a disaster if Jackson was their man. But if it’s Rosenfels or Webb, there’s no way this team can make a deep run into the playoffs. For their sake, the Vikings have to hope this latest Favre news isn’t true. Otherwise, their Super Bowl hopes have just taken a huge hit.

--Josh Katzowitz

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Posted on: July 31, 2010 4:09 pm
 

Quick Hit news items from the weekend

--It looks like Dwayne Jarrett will be the No. 2 receiver in Carolina this year .


--Trent Edwards opened training camp as the No. 1 quarterback in Buffalo.


--Pisa Tinoisamoa is battling Nick Roach for a starting strongside linebacker job in Chicago (both would be better on the weak side, but that’s neither here nor there.)


--Sidney Rice’s bum hip has landed him on PUP for now .


--Giants safety Kenny Phillips is also on PUP . Phillips is trying to come back from microfracture surgery that wiped out virtually all of his ’09 season.


--David Tyree and Ike Hilliard both signed contracts with the Giants so that they could retire as members of Big Blue.


--Chester Pitts finally found a home. The longtime Texan and his surgically-repaired knee signed a one-year contract with the Seahawks. Seattle runs a zone-blocking scheme that is very similar to the one Pitts worked in under Gary Kubiak in Houston.


--Derrick Burgess has upset the Patriots by not showing up for training camp. He is leaning towards retirement.

-- Andy Benoit

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Posted on: July 16, 2010 1:16 pm
Edited on: July 16, 2010 2:07 pm
 

Position rankings: wide receivers

A. Johnson makes a TD catch over Chicago's C. Tillman (Getty). Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit resume their debate, with today’s focus on wide receivers.

Andy Benoit’s top five

5. Brandon Marshall, Dolphins

4. Calvin Johnson, Lions

3. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals

2. Reggie Wayne, Colts

1. Andre Johnson, Texans


I wish we could do top 10 receivers – this position is flooded with talent. A lot of times, a receivers’ success depends on the system he’s in. For example, Miles Austin, with his fluidity and speed, produces like a top five receiver in Dallas’s catch-and-run offense. But could he succeed in a downfield “power-throwing” offense like Vincent Jackson does in San Diego? Probably not.

As you can see, I like receivers with freakish athleticism and size. These five guys can dominate in any system. Shuffle Fitzgerald, Wayne and Andre Johnson in any order you want – just don’t drop Wayne from the Top 3 and tell me it’s because he plays with Peyton Manning. Wayne might be themost fundamentally-sound player in the entire NFL.

Calvin Johnson hasn’t done anything yet, but that’s only because he’s stuck in Detroit. He’s at least 125 percent as gifted as anyone on this list.

I’m willing to have just about any discussion that pertains to the best receiver in the game – just as long as you don’t try to sell me Randy Moss. As a deep threat, Moss is the best ever. As an all-around receiver (route running, blocking, reading coverages, etc.), he’s average.

Josh Katzowitz’s top five

5. Calvin Johnson, Lions

4. Wes Welker, Patriots

3. Reggie Wayne, Colts

2. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals

1. Andre Johnson, Texans


I agree with everything you said about Johnson. He’s the best WR out there today. He seemingly has it all. He runs great routes, he can make the tough catches in traffic, and he has great athleticism.

Fitzgerald has recorded 25 touchdown catches the past two years, more than any other receiver. Plus, his dad is a sportswriter – which bodes pretty well for my children. I like him just a little bit better than Wayne, who’s more experienced but not quite as athletic and who, like you said, has the benefit of catching balls from one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. But I agree with the top-three – which, truth be told, is hard to argue against.

I’ve got to go with Welker at No. 4. He has sneaky speed, he can read any defense, and his yards-after-contact numbers are extraordinary. Will he be the same receiver after his knee problems? Well, we won’t know that until the regular season begins, but for now, Welker is a top-five guy. I’m interested to hear your take on Welker, Andy. I dropped Johnson to No. 5, because he flubs too many catches.

I thought hard about putting San Diego’s (for now) Vincent Jackson on the list. He has a very high yards-per-catch average, and he’s a very good blocker. But with the three-game suspension and the fact he might hold out for much of the season, I just couldn’t pull the trigger. I also thought about Sidney Rice, but one season doesn’t make a career. Where do you stand with those guys?

Andy’s rebuttal

I have no problem with Welker being top five. The numbers are there – 346 catches for 3,368 yards over the last three seasons – and there isn’t a little thing he doesn’t do right. Welker is the sustaining element of New England’s offense. I left him off my list because he’s essentially confined to the slot.

Jackson might be the best deep threat in the NFL right now. And while I’m on numbers, I’ll mention that 58 of Jackson’s 68 receptions last season resulted in a first down. Of everyone you mentioned, Josh, Rice is the only player I never considered. He had a great ’09 campaign, but given his (albeit short) track record, I need to see him do it at least once more.

Josh, you surprised everyone by not taking a principled stand and including a “solid, scrappy (read: white)” backup receiver like Mike Furrey or Austin Collie on your list. Since this made our lists virtually identical, how about we do the top three wide receiver duos in the NFL? But let’s put a wrinkle in it: top three duos, but no member of the duos can be on our top five list (i.e. no Moss-Welker, Wayne-Garcon or Johnson-Walter). Here’s what I have:

1. Donald DriverGreg Jennings, Packers. Perfect fits for Green Bay’s quick-slanting system.

2. Vincent Jackson – Malcolm Floyd, Chargers. Their size and speed creates nightmares for defensive coordinators and allows Antonio Gates to work against safeties and linebackers.

3. DeSean JacksonJeremy Maclin, Eagles. Jackson is fast becoming the best big-play weapon in the game. Maclin, in only his second season, could soon emerge as another version of Jackson.

Josh’s final word

Jeez, Andy, you make it sound like I put backups on my top five lists. Hey, I wasn’t the one who put Chad Greenway on my 4-3 outside linebackers list. That was you.

I’ll play your game, though.

1. Driver – Jennings, Packers. You’re absolutely right about these guys, Andy. Driver has been really good for many years, and though neither of these guys are top 10 by themselves, they help make Aaron Rodgers look really good.

2. Sidney Rice – Percy Harvin, Vikings. These guys are young – 23 and 22, respectively – and with Brett Favre throwing passes their way probably for the next … oh, say … five or 10 years (psst, he’s never going to retire), the Minnesota offense will continue to be very dangerous.

3. Jackson - Floyd, Chargers. We've talked about Jackson, but Floyd was solid last year after the Chargers waived Chris Chambers. He obviously needs to score more touchdowns - he only had one last season - but his 6-foot-5 stature will continue to grab the attention of QB Philip Rivers.

Other positions: Safety | Cornerback | 3-4 Scheme Outside Linebacker | Punter  | Kicker | 4-3 Scheme Outside Linebacker | Inside Linebacker  | Defensive Tackle  | Defensive End | Offensive Tackle   | Center | Offensive Guard | Tight End )

--Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit

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Posted on: July 8, 2010 7:36 pm
 

What's the deal with Sidney Rice's hip?

S. Rice celebrating (US Presswire) Kind of a strange day for Vikings WR Sidney Rice and, I suppose, his hip.

First, let’s go to the reaction of former star Cris Carter – who, along with Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, has been working out NFL receivers at the University of Minnesota – on Rice, who wasn’t in attendance. Keep in mind that Rice credited the Fitzgerald summer workouts with helping him to an 83-catch, 1,312-yard, eight-touchdown Pro Bowl season last year.

As brought to you by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune , Carter sounded peeved at Rice’s absence.

"I don’t know," Carter said when asked what challenges Rice will face this season. "You have to ask him. I don’t know what it’s like to have one good year and then disappear. I don’t know what it’s like. That’s on him. I really don’t know. … If I had that kind of impact on him, he should have been here today."

And then this: "I don’t look mad do I?" Carter said. "I don’t get mad about kids coming or not coming. Larry is the only one who invited me. … Everybody else is just getting the benefit of our relationship. But Sidney is not here so I guarantee he’s not getting no better today."

With rumors that Rice’s groin was injured, that prompted Drew Rosenhaus, Rice’s agent, to go on a Twittering rampage (OK, it was only two tweets but still). The first: “Sidney Rice does not have a groin injury and has not had surgery. He does have a lingering hip injury that he suffered in the play-offs.” And the second: “Sidney does not anticipate that this injury will require surgery and he's hopeful that he will be fully healthy for the start of the season.”

Then, the Star-Tribune caught up with Rice, who said, “"Everything is alright. I'll be ready to go at camp. … Just being cautious with it. I can run. I'm jogging and sprinting. I'm just not doing a lot of cutting and different things like that. The doctors feel this is the best thing."

--Josh Katzowitz

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