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The Rice is ready

Posted Sep 23, 2011

After sitting out the first two games with a sore shoulder, wide receiver Sidney Rice will make his regular-season debut for the Seahawks in Sunday's home opener.


To say that Sidney Rice is ready to make his Seahawks’ regular-season debut in Sunday’s home opener isn’t entirely correct.

That’s because the former Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings who signed with the Seahawks in late July was actually ready to play last week.

“I do feel like I could have played last week,” Rice said Friday after practice. “I tried to get out there (in practice) and sneak a few reps in, but they kept pulling me out of there last week.”

So the first regular-season glimpse fans will get of Rice comes Sunday at CenturyLink Field when the Seahawks host the NFC West rival Arizona Cardinals.

“This week I was able to get out starting Wednesday and go full-go,” he said. “I didn’t get pulled out of any drills or anything like that. I also had no problems with my shoulder.”

It’s difficult to tell who’s more excited: Rice, or quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who played with Rice in Minnesota the past four seasons and helped recruit him after he agreed to sign with the Seahawks.

“It means a lot,” Jackson said when asked about Rice’s return. “If we can get one-on-one (coverage) outside with him that will be great. But if not, it will help our running game if they try to put another safety over the top to help cover him.”

Then there’s the “comfort factor” that comes with throwing the ball in Rice’s direction – because of the rapport they developed while in Minnesota; but also because of Rice’s ridiculous catch radius and sure hands.

“Definitely, I’m very comfortable with him,” Jackson said. “I’m comfortable with the other guys too, but there’s a lot more familiarity with Sid.”

Rice was listed as probable on the injury report Friday, a designation that means there’s a 75 percent he’ll play. But it sounds like a precautionary move.

“He’s going to play,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We’ve got to make sure he wakes up right and all that. But he had a great week and we’re excited to have him back.”

Rice seemed to get better, and be more comfortable, in each practice this week.

“It’s just natural for him to feel better when he sees what he can do and all that,” Carroll said. “He had a good week last week, too.”

Friday, Rice tested his shoulder by fully extending his body and reaching up to grab a pass in the end zone, as well as reaching down to catch a low pass.

“You always want to be out there on the field, you don’t want to let an injury hold you back,” Rice said. “You’re hurt, you’re hurt. You can’t do much about it, but work your tail off and try to get back out there as soon as possible.

“I can’t help the team while I’m in the training room.”

The big question: How will respond Rice when he takes a hit? The next question: He is concerned about it?

“Nah, I’m fine,” he said. “If there was any question, I’m sure coach and those guys wouldn’t even have me out there. But I feel comfortable. I’m ready to go. We’ll see how it goes Sunday.”

The passing game has missed Rice, who hasn’t played since the third preseason game. He was, after all, a Pro Bowl selection with the Vikings two years ago when he caught 83 passes for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns.

“He’s a big factor,” Carroll said. “This was a big move that we made to go get Sidney and we had in mind that he would be a huge factor for us and help other guys get open and help the running game and all that, because you’ve got to pay attention to him. He’s that good a player.

“So as we work him back in, we’ll see the impact as we build with it. But it’s great to have him back.”

But not as great as it is to be back.

“It’s been a while – about a month – that I’ve been out for a week of practice full-go,” Rice said. “It felt great all week and I’m just ready to get to Sunday and get out there and play ball.”

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