Photograph courtesy of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Da da da dadada da. . .da da da dadada da (tink, tink). . .
Alright, stop, collaborate and listen. . .
Ugh, enough of that. I apologize to all of you for my outburst.
Lost in all of the excitement of the performance of Purple Jesus this past Sunday was the play of Sidney Rice. Rice was the Vikings' leading receiver against the Chargers, capping his afternoon off with a very impressive play. After the dynamic duo of Peterson and Chester Taylor helped the Vikings move the ball from the Minnesota 19 to a 1st and 10 on the San Diego 40. Brooks Bollinger took the snap from center, faked a handoff, and lofted an accurate toss to a wide open #18 on the right sideline. Rice caught the ball, took a couple steps forward, felt himself drifting out of bounds, and launched himself from the 5-yard line to the end zone. The result was his second touchdown of the year, and it gave the Vikings a 21-14 lead, a lead that the Vikings wouldn't relinquish.
Rice finished the game with 66 yards on 4 catches. For the year, Rice has 18 catches (tied for 4th among all rookie receivers) and has 212 yards receiving (also 4th among rookie wide receivers). Back when Rice was first drafted, many folks out there. . .myself included. . .questioned the selection of Rice over Southern Cal wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett. It's not that I don't think Rice has a great deal of potential, because it's obvious that he does, but I thought that Jarrett was the better, more polished, more "NFL ready" wide receiver.
At the midway point of the season, Jarrett has 1 catch for 6 yards. One catch. Six yards. Total. Jarrett looks like a flop now, and Rice is becoming a bigger part of one of the best Vikings drafts in recent memory.
Consider this about Sidney Rice. . .the guy wasn't old enough to drink until he turned 21 less than two months ago. He left South Carolina after his sophomore year. . .not after his junior year. He only played two years of college football. Had he stayed and played another year for the Ol' Ball Coach, there's a very good chance that he could have been the first receiver taken in the 2008 draft, not to mention how far his star could have risen had he played all four years for the Gamecocks. Thus far, we've seen that Rice has pretty good hands, outstanding leaping ability, and incredible body control. Considering the woes that the Vikings' passing game has had to this point, the fact that Rice has even produced to the level he has has been a pleasant surprise this far in the 2007 season.
Rice, along with Adrian Peterson, Brian Robison, Marcus McCauley, and Aundrae Allison are going to be the foundation of the start of something big in Minnesota. In my slightly biased opinion, we're two pieces away from being a very good, if not elite, football team. . .a quarterback and one more wide receiver. As far as I can tell, all the other pieces are in place. And with the way Peterson, Taylor, and the offensive line are playing, it doesn't even have to be superstar QB play. . .it just has to be average. Maybe Brooks Bollinger can provide that, or we might be looking at a new face in 2008.
The continued development of Sidney Rice is going to be an interesting side story to the Adrian Peterson Show for the rest of the 2007 season. I know that I, for one, am looking forward to it. . .after all, he is the official wide receiver of The Daily Norseman. (-: