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Harvin Pick Will Help, Not Hinder, Rice

General headache and hemorrhoid agent Drew Rosenhaus made an interesting comment on his Twitter account today concerning his client and Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice, saying “Despite drafting a WR, I expect the Vikings to take better advantage of Sidney Rice’s talent this season. Rice is ready to step up in 09.”

Combine this with recent comments made on Rice’s own web blog where he said “I guess they thought we needed another receiver” after the draft, and it sounds like we have a bit of a murder mystery on our hands!

Ok, not a murder mystery, but definitely a case of a wide receiver on the roster feeling either under utilized or forgotten by the team that drafted him only two years ago. This feeling is probably understandable. Rice was acknowledged as being injured at the beginning of 2008 and was never really able to get his feet under him.

After an impressive outing in Green Bay during the first game of the year, he was rarely heard from throughout the rest of the year as he was never able to fully recover and get his burst back. Outside of a predictable red zone fade attempt, Rice was never really given an opportunity to blossom, a lot of which may had to do with concerns about Rice’s long term health, and not simply that he was being underutilized as Rosenhaus seemingly wants to insinuate.

While the Vikings did enter the offseason acutely aware of their need for offensive playmakers, neither Rice nor Rosenhaus could have predicted that the only real and viable option would appear in the draft as Percy Harvin (Houshmandzadeh hardly counts as a “play maker”, although the Vikings pursuit of him did indicate a need for some kind of receiving upgrade).

Yes, Harvin was drafted as a wide receiver and would seem to bring unwanted competition for Rice, perhaps taking snaps away and other on-field time. But Rosenhaus and Rice are neglecting to see the positives that Harvin can bring to Rice’s game, whether Harvin is utilized as a receiver or a hybrid player.

Ideally, the addition of Harvin benefits every receiver on the team. Bernard Berrian can now focus on being a deep threat and yards-after-catch receiver, while Bobby Wade and Rice can be more effective as a fourth receiver in the slot and a steady outside, strong handed threat, respectively.

Harvin can stretch the field length wise with smart underneath routes and force the defense to account for him. In a three receiver set, with Berrian, Harvin and Rice on the outside, Harvin’s presence alone should actually benefit Rice when the defense is forced to show him single coverage.

When faced with single coverage all the time, with a play making Harvin running underneath and a frightening running back looking to crush your soul out of the back field, Rice should have every opportunity in the world to make play after play in 2009. With his size (he is generously listed as 6-4, 202 lbs) he should be able to out muscle and out jump most cornerbacks in the league for balls thrown his way.

In addition, 2009 will be his third year in the NFL, widely considered the year that receivers break out of their rookie cocoon and turn into emerging receiving stars. On the whole, with the addition of Percy Harvin in 2009, it is looking like a great opportunity for Rice, not a set back.

Hopefully soon both Rosenhaus and Rice realize this, and the Vikings end up with three great weapons at wide receiver simply by drafting one.

Special thanks to the Star Tribune Access Vikings for providing the fodder for this story.

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2 Responses to “Harvin Pick Will Help, Not Hinder, Rice”

  1. BUSTER RHYMES says:

    Yea we’ll see what great things the brittle Rice can do when he’s not hurt, if that’s possible.

  2. Fragile Fred Smoot says:

    Fred loves this…“Despite drafting a WR, I expect the Vikings to take better advantage of Sidney Rice’s talent this season.”

    Better advantage? Hey Drew, let’s get Sid on the field, then let’s talk about, “better advantage.”

    Fred likes Sid, but he need to get better. This is not a problem with the Vikes not using him correctly.

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