Rice’s workouts with Fitzgerald were eye-openers

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By Sean Jensen and Rick Alonzo
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Posted: December 3, 2009

In early July, during a two-hour workout at Velocity Sports Performance in Champlin, former Vikings receiver Cris Carter harshly critiqued current Vikings receiver Sidney Rice about his route-running and pass-catching, and punished him by making him do push-ups.

“A lot of guys would have just said, ‘Forget it. I’m already in the NFL. Who is this guy to talk to me like that?’ ” said Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, a Minneapolis native who invited Rice to the workouts. “Well, Sidney is a fighter. He’s a competitor. He wants to be the best.”

At the time, Rice told the Pioneer Press that the workouts “opened my eyes.”

Now, Rice is opening up a lot of other people’s eyes. Through 11 games, he leads the NFC with 964 receiving yards. On Sunday, he and Fitzgerald will share the same field, when the Cardinals host the Vikings at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Rice said he hasn’t spoken to Carter since July, but he said he appreciated the star receiver’s input.

“He’s going to tell the truth,” Rice said of Carter on Wednesday. “I took that and used that as motivation.”

Fitzgerald said he had the same experience with Carter, although he was in college at Pittsburgh when they first worked out together.

“He ripped me a new one, in front of all my peers,” Fitzgerald said during a conference call Wednesday. “Kind of how he did Sidney.”

Carter called Rice a “phenomenal athlete” in July. But he was none too pleased with some of Rice’s technique.

Fitzgerald said Rice has done enough to earn a Pro Bowl spot, something he has done three times already.

“You know how you see a friend do something? You just genuinely happy to see them do it, and that’s kind of how I feel,” Fitzgerald said of Rice’s success.

Rice said the workouts gave him a “competitive edge.” Fitzgerald also invited Jerry Rice to lead workouts, and other current receivers who attended the workouts included Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos and Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers.

Injury update: Starting right guard Anthony Herrera said he feels fine and plans to play against Arizona after missing last Sunday’s game with a concussion.

“I’m good,” Herrera said before not practicing Wednesday. “Everything’s smooth.”

This is the second concussion Herrera has suffered. He had one in college.

Cornerback Benny Sapp has a soft cast on his right hand and did not practice. The injury report also said he had a rib injury.

“Everything is fine,” he said. “I’m playing this week.”

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie (back), tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (ribs), fullback Naufahu Tahi (ankle), running back Chester Taylor (ribs) and cornerback Antoine Winfield (foot) were all limited Wednesday.

Receiver Bernard Berrian (hamstring) and running back Adrian Peterson (ankle) fully participated.

Briefly: Sapp said the Cardinals’ receiving corps – with Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston – was one of the top three in the league and the best the Vikings have faced this season.

“We got a big challenge this week,” Sapp said. “We just got to make plays.”