Vikings WR Rice out with hip injury

EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN. (AP) - Brett Favre’s job just got a whole lot tougher.

Favre and the Minnesota Vikings will play the first half of the season _ or more _ without Pro Bowl receiver Sidney Rice, who had hip surgery this week.

Coach Brad Childress said Tuesday that Rice had the procedure in Vail, Colo., on Monday night. He couldn’t give a specific timetable for Rice’s return, but said typically it takes about eight weeks before a player can even get back to practice, let alone game action.

“I would think (it will take) probably at least eight weeks before we’re talking about doing anything,” Childress said.

It’s a huge blow for the Vikings, who have very little depth at receiver. Percy Harvin has struggled with migraines during the preseason, and the team signed veteran Javon Walker on Tuesday to help out.

After catching just 45 passes during an injury-plagued first two seasons in Minnesota, Rice emerged as Brett Favre’s go-to guy in his third season with 83 catches for 1,312 yards and eight TDs. He earned his first Pro Bowl bid, though he was injured in the playoffs and did not play again.

Favre raved about Rice’s combination of size and leaping ability, saying he felt confident throwing the ball his way even if Rice appeared to be well covered. Favre’s confidence in him allowed Rice to blossom, positioning himself as one of the best downfield threats in the NFC despite a lack of game-breaking speed.

He saw three specialists in the offseason to examine his injured hip and declined to have surgery, hoping the condition would heal on its own. Rice never participated in a practice during training camp, and it became apparent late last week that the injury was not improving fast enough for him to be ready for the season opener against New Orleans on Sept. 9.

Childress said all the specialists, along with team doctors, agreed that surgery was not needed in the offseason. Rice, who is in the final year of his contract for just $550,000 this season, decided something more had to be done.

“I can’t feel what he’s feeling,” Childress said. “In the end, it’s up to him whether he wanted to have that procedure or whether he could press through.”

The surgery, first reported by the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, means Favre’s 20th season in the NFL will likely be much more challenging than last year.

In addition to Rice’s injury, Harvin has been plagued by several attacks of migraine headaches this month, the latest coming last week when he vomited on the field and needed to be taken to a hospital by ambulance. He hasn’t played in either of the first two games of the preseason and never knows when another bout will occur.

Harvin did not practice Tuesday and Childress said he is scheduled to have more tests done and will not play until those are completed and evaluated.

“He’s not going to practice until he finishes with the medical protocol,” Childress said.

With Bernard Berrian the only healthy, established veteran receiver on the roster, the Vikings turned to one of Favre’s old teammates in hopes of filling the gaps.

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