By Chris Cluff
Sidney Rice, WR, #18
Hometown: Gaffney, S.C.
College: South Carolina
Experience: 6 Years
When Sidney Rice caught Russell Wilson’s perfectly thrown 46-yard touchdown pass to overtake the New England Patriots in the final minute two weeks ago, it seemed like they had really started to build a passing rapport. Wilson and Rice appeared to be getting it together in Weeks Five and Six as Rice caught five balls for 67 yards in a 16-12 win on the road against the Carolina Panthers and three passes for 81 yards and the tying touchdown in the comeback 24-23 win against New England.
But then came the loss in San Francisco last Thursday, which showed that it might truly have been a passing (as in fleeting) connection. Rice caught just two passes for 32 yards vs. the 49ers as Wilson often looked elsewhere, only to have several players drop potential big plays.
Rice leads the Hawks with 22 catches for 312 yards, but Wilson is throwing to him only about five times a game. After getting targeted just four times against the 49ers and watching teammates drop 4-5 balls, Rice apparently was so unhappy that he declined to talk to media.
Wilson brushed off any issues, saying he knows Rice needs to get the ball.
“Sidney and I are close,” Wilson told reporters. “He’s a guy who loves to compete at the highest level, and obviously I want to get the ball to Sidney as much as I can.”
As the Seahawks prepare to play the Detroit Lions in Week Eight and then the Minnesota Vikings in Week Nine, there’s no better time for Wilson to start throwing to Rice again. He knows both teams better than any Seattle receiver and certainly will be motivated to show his quality with Lions receiver Calvin Johnson on the other side of the field this week and against his former teammates next week.
The Hawks have the second-worst passing attack in the NFL, and Rice surely could help fix it. That’s why head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider signed the 6-foot-4 pass catcher for five years and $41 million last year — even though he came from Minnesota with the reputation for being injury-prone.
He lived down to that stigma last season, missing the first two games with shoulder problems and then hitting injured reserve in late November after suffering two concussions in three weeks. Then he had surgeries on both shoulders in the offseason, which laid him up until training camp and limited him in the preseason.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was with Rice in Minnesota three years ago, when he caught 83 passes for 1,312 yards and eight scores. Bevell knows what he can do.
Bevell also knows Rice has not been healthy the past two years, playing just 15 games in 2010 and 2011.
But he is healthy now and has shown he is ready — and very willing — to start earning all of that money.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Seahawks news, see CBS Sports Seattle.
Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.