“This is going to be up to them. I know they’re going to protect me as much as possible,” Rice said of the team. “Preseason is important but it’s not as important as the regular season. They’re going to take their time and progress me along, bring me along as much as possible, and we’ll see what happens during the preseason games.”
Rice’s first season with Seattle was marred by injury. He injured one shoulder during the preseason and said he was unaware that the other was also damaged. Rice played as best he could through the two shoulder injuries until a pair of concussions — the second one suffered in Week 12 against Washington — finally landed Rice on injured reserve.
His first shoulder surgery on the right one came Jan. 3. His left shoulder was repaired Feb. 16. Still, it could be a while before the Seahawks put him at risk. Initially, they were going to place Rice on the physically unable to perform list for the start of training camp, but he was cleared to participate in drills over the weekend before the first practice.
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“We’re just going to go through this conservatively, I guess you can say, and lengthen the time of his recovery through this camp. That’s great that he’s working and getting the timing worked, but we won’t get him banged for a while,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We’ll see how that goes as we start to make progress. This is the best time for us to have our hands on him and really work him right and finish off his off-season, and I just think he’s had enough that he’s been through that it warrants taking our time here and not rushing him back.”
Rice’s health is of the utmost importance for Seattle this year because of the questions that linger with the rest of its receivers. The competition to find who will start opposite Rice, along with determining the depth of the position, is one of the few true battles the Seahawks have to solve during the next month.
“I’m the leader of this group now with Mike (Williams) gone and I just want to lead by example,” Rice said. “These guys know how to play football but we have to bring it every day, bring the right attitude.”