Can Sidney Rice be replaced?

Although much of the conversation surrounding Sidney Rice is focusing on the why — why he chose to have surgery now, as well as possible conspiracy theories involved — the fact remains the Vikings will be without their leading receiver for at least half the season. At least.

Vikings coach Brad Childress admitted Tuesday that it would be at least eight weeks before Rice is “able to do anything.”

As much as it impacts your fantasy team, the Vikings also are figuring out how to overcome the loss of Rice.

Not only is Rice a complete receiver with few holes in his game, but he developed an instant rapport with Brett Favre. The Vikings don’t replace him as much as they do spread his production around to different weapons on the team.

“I think it’s huge, I think it’s a devastating loss early in the season,” Brian Baldinger says. “In Brett Favre’s mind, Rice was never covered. He was always open, he was always an option. He really didn’t do much before Favre got there. Now Favre had a go-to guy, a clear-cut No. 1. Without him there, I don’t think any of the other guys play the way that Rice played.”

Bernard Berrian, now the de facto No. 1 receiver, flourishes on stretching the field but lacks the size and physicality of Rice.  Percy Harvin creates matchup problems for defenses by virtue of where he is lined up, but he won’t see the field until he’s cleared by doctors. Veteran Greg Lewis is currently the third receiver. Playmaker Joe Webb won’t be moved to receiver.

Javon Walker is a name, but I’m told he has nothing left, even if he says he does.

The Vikings, who no longer have a player to draw double-teams, will have to get production somewhere. I’m guessing the load falls heavily on RB Adrian Peterson and TE Visanthe Shiancoe. The Vikings have been inclined to get Peterson more involved in the passing game, and Shiancoe had a career season in his first with Favre, working the middle of the field.

The good news for the Vikings is they have a top-tier defense, a strong running game and an experienced Favre. Not quite time to hit the panic button.

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