RENTON – If you’re looking for Seattle Seahawks receiver Sidney Rice to provide some bulletin board material for his former team with Minnesota traveling to Seattle this weekend, don’t bother.
Rice says he remains close with several Minnesota players, along with Vikings receivers coach George Stewart, and doesn’t expect much woofing from his former teammates on Sunday.
“I don’t talk a lot,” Rice said. “I just go out there and try and get the job done. I’m sure we’re going to exchange a few words, but it won’t be nothing serious … .”
Rice will face his former team for the second time since signing a five-year, $41 million deal with Seattle in free agency before the 2011 season, $18 million of which is guaranteed.
The two teams met during exhibition play last year.
Rice said nine of the 11 defensive starters he practiced against on a regular basis when he played in Minnesota are still with the club.
That number includes three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield. At 6-foot-4 and 202 pounds, Rice has a size advantage over the feisty Winfield, who comes in at 5-9 and 180 pounds.
“I definitely feel like I have a slight edge on everybody else, going with those guys for so many years,” Rice said. “Antoine Winfield, probably their best corner, is a guy I played against my entire four years there. He’s really smart and talented, and probably one of the toughest small guys I’ve ever seen in my life.
“So on our offensive side as receivers we have to be prepared for him.”
Rice struggled through an injury-plagued first season with Seattle, finishing with 32 catches for 484 yards and two touchdowns in nine games before landing on the injured reserve list with concussion and shoulder issues.
But after offseason surgery on both shoulders, Rice finally is healthy. He leads the team with 28 catches for 367 yards and three touchdowns.
Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell thinks Rice is back to being the player who earned a Pro Bowl selection in 2009 after leading the Vikings with 83 catches for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns during Minnesota’s run to the NFC Championship Game.
“He’s looking a lot better,” Bevell said. “He’s playing physical. He’s never stopped catching the ball. His catch radius is ridiculous. But as far as running, he’s running strong. He’s catching strong.
“Whether he’s all the way back or not, it’s hard to say. But he’s really close to that form.”
Like Rice, Bevell is facing his former team. Bevell served as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator for five seasons before taking over the same job for Seattle.
“Any time that you play somebody that you worked for at one time, you want to do well,” Bevell said.
NO SLOWING DOWN FOR WILSON
At the midpoint of an NFL season, rookies, if still in college, would be winding down their football season.
However, when asked if he felt like he had hit a wall after four exhibition contests and eight regular-season games, Seahawks first-year quarterback Russell Wilson said he’s still going strong.
“I think people forget that I played college football and professional baseball all in one year,” Wilson said. “So this isn’t anything to me. I can go all day.
“It’s one of those things I think mentally you have to be focused. You have to get into a routine. I’m on a scheduled routine in terms of getting here early in the morning, waking my body up. Getting in the hot tub, cold tub and stretching a lot. And that really kind of gets you alive and awake when you get here. And I think more than anything, when you love the game you never get tired of it.”
Wilson said he’s keeping his approach simple as the Seahawks embark on the second half of the season after posting a 4-4 record through eight games.
“The first expectation is to go 1-0 every single week, and just win,” Wilson said. “I think that’s the main thing. It doesn’t matter how we win. I think that obviously, with eight games under my belt, it makes me feel a lot more comfortable. And I’m just trusting my offense, trusting my guys. The chemistry with the guys is just a lot better.”
Considered a long shot to play this weekend by Seattle coach Pete Carroll on Monday, receiver Doug Baldwin was a full participant in practice on Thursday.
Baldwin missed last week’s game at Detroit with a high ankle sprain. Offensive guard John Moffitt (knee) also was a full participant, along with running back Marshawn Lynch (back).
Receiver Braylon Edwards (knee) and defensive tackle Jason Jones (ankle) missed a second straight day of practice, and rookie defensive lineman Greg Scruggs (oblique) was added to the injury report. He did not practice.
Cornerback Byron Maxwell (hamstring) was a limited participant for a second straight day.
The Seahawks will host their annual “Tackle Hunger” drive on Sunday. Fans attending the game are asked to bring nonperishable food or cash donations to CenturyLink Field to benefit Northwest Harvest. The American Red Cross will have volunteers at the game collecting cash donations to help victims of superstorm Sandy.Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams