If you'll recall. . .and, frankly, I'm not sure how you'd forget at this point. . .the Vikings placed Sidney Rice on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List back in the early stages of training camp this year. Naturally, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth over this whole thing, because we thought our offense might be screwed without him.
And, to an extent, we were right, but I think we've solved that problem for the most part.
Monday will mark Minnesota's sixth game of the 2010 season, after which a decision will have to be made. The Vikings have three weeks to get Sidney back onto the practice field after his stint on the PUP list is over. This means that the very latest that he could start practicing would be 9 November, after Minnesota's match-up at the Metrodome with the Arizona Cardinals and leading up to their trip to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears in Week 10.
The next date is determined by the day Rice actually starts practicing with the team. From the day Rice formally practices with the team for the first time, the Vikings have three weeks to either move him to the 53-man active roster, or put him on injured reserve and end his season completely. So, if the Vikings wait until the absolute last minute to have Sidney practicing with the team. . .that being the 9 November date mentioned above. . .the date that the decision on his roster status would have to be made would be 30 November, meaning that his first game back with the Vikings would be set for the Week 13 match-up against the Buffalo Bills at the Metrodome.
Now, keep in mind that those are the longest-term scenarios. . .if the Vikings wanted to, they could have Rice practice next Tuesday and move him to the 53-man roster immediately, but there's zero chance of that happening. Rice is off of his crutches and was seen moving slowly on the practice field and catching a few passes, but there's nothing to indicate that he's even remotely ready to contribute yet. But I'm sure that once the guy gets moving again, he'll be able to get in shape fairly quickly, and be lined up out wide in the Vikings' offense before we know it.
But there's the clarification on Sidney Rice's status. Hopefully this will clarify some things for some folks out there. In the meantime. . .just keep dreaming about the Randy Moss/Sidney Rice/Percy Harvin trifecta that the Vikings are going to be lining up at receiver for the last six or seven games of the season.