The penultimate scene has played out in a nearly three-week drama between the Minnesota Vikings and receiver Sidney Rice, one that ultimately seems likely to push Rice onto the active roster Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. It remains to be seen how happy Rice will be with that conclusion, however.
Technically, Rice has until next Wednesday to determine if his surgically-repaired hip has healed enough to return to the field after what has been a nine-game absence. But coach Brad Childress, who has believed Rice to be healthy enough to play for two weeks, effectively moved that deadline up to Saturday. Childress, in fact, told reporters that Rice either will be activated to the 53-man roster this weekend or he will be shut down for the rest of the season.
Childress, via Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com: "He's not going to do any more between now [and] Tuesday. So we're either putting him up for Sunday or putting him down on Tuesday."
We've chronicled the increasingly tense relationship between the two sides and wondered if it is related to Rice being in the final year of his contract. The Vikings have held open a roster spot for more than two weeks in anticipation of his return, but Rice has cited continued discomfort in tapping out on each occasion.
The NFL Network reported that Rice is "almost certain" to be activated Saturday. Rice declined to answer questions from reporters but said he had been informed of Childress' now-or-never intent. Regardless, Childress threw down the gauntlet Friday. Rice seems cornered, but he has the final move. Would he really sit out the season with an injury that shouldn't have taken more than half of it to heal? We'll find out Saturday.