|Simeon Rice is a bit rusty in his game and his bravado|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 05 September 2007 12:35|
Known as much for his showmanship as his sensational pass-rushing skills during his decorated 11-year NFL career, the Denver Broncos' new sacks specialist wouldn't venture a guess Wednesday as to how long it will take him to feel like his old self or whether he'll even be able to play in the opener at Buffalo on Sunday.
``I'm not sure. I'm just here trying to get my legs back. Taking it slow, taking it real slow,'' said Rice, who signed a one-year, $3 million contract on Monday. ``This is my first time I'm even putting a helmet on, so everything is new for me since my injury.''
Rice, 33, started the first eight games last year in Tampa Bay before being sidelined by a shoulder injury. He was released by the Buccaneers this summer after they signed first-round draft pick Gaines Adams and Rice refused a sizable pay cut.
Rice, whose 121 career sacks rank second to Michael Strahan among active players, failed a physical in Tampa Bay but has since passed all his medical tests. He chose Denver over St. Louis in part because of the opportunity to get more playing time with the Broncos, who lost starter Ebenezer Ekuban to a season-ending Achilles injury during training camp.
But how is Rice's shoulder? Rice said he was just as curious as everybody else.
``Walking around the street I feel fantastic, you know what I mean?'' Rice said. ``I think I'm OK. I think I'm adequate to play, but we'll soon find out.''
Coach Mike Shanahan said after practice the shoulder looked fine and so did Rice. He sounded confident Rice will be lining up against the Bills at least for spot duty.
``Yeah, we plan on hopefully getting him in around 15-20 plays,'' Shanahan said. ``But I'm not really sure yet until ... we get a chance to see him for a couple of days. So, we'll just have to wait and see.''
Defensive boss Jim Bates said Rice is one of those rare athletes who could play in a season opener after missing all of training camp because of his excellent work ethic and offseason regimen.
After practice, Rice spent an extra half hour working on pass-rushing technique and running laps around the field before heading off to meetings.
Bates is eager to plug Rice into his defense not only for the speed he brings off the edge but for the residual effect his presence can have down the line. Plus, he'll be counted upon to mentor the Broncos' young pass rushers, particularly first-round draft pick Jarvis Moss.
``Jarvis ought to pick up a lot from Simeon because they're similar body types, and just the technique involved in pass-rushing, different wrinkles that Simeon will be able to teach Jarvis will help him,'' Bates said.
Moss realizes his projected playing time will decrease with Rice's arrival but insists he's excited to learn from the 12th-year pro.
``Having that caliber of player here, not just for me but to help our team out, is really exciting,'' Moss said. ``I'm excited to go out to practice and watch him and see some of the things he does. I feel like if I have half the career he's had, I'd be a really good NFL player.''
Rice said he felt rejuvenated coming to an organization such as Denver's after John Lynch, Nate Webster and Ian Gold, all former teammates of his in Tampa Bay, spoke so highly of the Broncos.
``It feels good, a new start, a shot in the arm, a B-12 shot,'' Rice said. ``It's good for me. I feel like a rookie again.''
After recording just two sacks last season, Rice is eager to have a bounce-back year.
``The fans and the people that watch me play are used to me playing on a high, high level. So, I can't just walk in and be a guy. I've got to be, you know, hot nice. And I've got to bring that funk, that fire,'' Rice said, his oratory ebullience starting to return.
Warming up, he didn't hesitate when asked if healthy, how good is he?
``The best,'' he said. ``There's no ifs, ands or buts.''
There's the Simeon Rice everyone is used to.