If you’re looking for Seattle Seahawks receiver Sidney Rice to provide some bulletin board material for his former team with Minnesota traveling to Seattle this weekend, don’t bother.
Rice says he remains close with several Minnesota players, along with Vikings receivers coach George Stewart, and doesn’t expect much woofing from his former teammates on Sunday.
“I don’t talk a lot,” Rice said. “I just go out there and try and get the job done. I’m sure we’re going to exchange a few words, but it won’t be nothing serious … .”
Rice will face his former team for the second time since signing a five-year, $41 million deal with Seattle in free agency before the 2011 season, $18 million of which is guaranteed.
The two teams met during exhibition play last year.
Rice said nine of the 11 defensive starters he practiced against on a regular basis when he played in Minnesota are still with the club.
That number includes three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield. At 6-foot-4 and 202 pounds, Rice has a size advantage over the feisty Winfield, who comes in at 5-9 and 180 pounds.
“I definitely feel like I have a slight edge on everybody else, going with those guys for so many years,” Rice said. “Antoine Winfield, probably their best corner, is a guy I played against my entire four years there. He’s really smart and talented, and probably one of the toughest small guys I’ve ever seen in my life.
“So on our offensive side as receivers we have to be prepared for him.”
Rice struggled through an injury-plagued first season with Seattle, finishing with 32 catches for 484 yards and two touchdowns in nine games before landing on the injured reserve list with concussion and shoulder issues.
But after offseason surgery on both shoulders, Rice finally is healthy. He leads the team with 28 catches for 367 yards and three touchdowns.
Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell thinks Rice is back to being the player who earned a Pro Bowl selection in 2009 after leading the Vikings with 83 catches for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns during Minnesota’s run to the NFC Championship Game.
“He’s looking a lot better,” Bevell said. “He’s playing physical. He’s never stopped catching the ball. His catch radius is ridiculous. But as far as running, he’s running strong. He’s catching strong.
“Whether he’s all the way back or not, it’s hard to say. But he’s really close to that form.”
Like Rice, Bevell is facing his former team. Bevell served as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator for five seasons before taking over the same job for Seattle.
“Any time that you play somebody that you worked for at one time, you want to do well,” Bevell said.