SEATTLE — A Seattle offense coming off its worst statistical performance in more than two years took another hit Tuesday with the news that receiver Sidney Rice will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
Rice suffered the injury in Monday’s 14-9 win at St. Louis, leaving after a play in the second quarter when he dived unsuccessfully to corral a Russell Wilson pass in the end zone.
Coach Pete Carroll said after the game he didn’t know the extent of the injury. Tuesday afternoon, however, the team confirmed that Rice had torn his ACL and won’t return this season.
Rice was not putting up big numbers, Seattle’s third-leading receiver with 15 catches for 231 yards. But he is the team’s tallest receiver at 6 feet 4 with no other receiver taller than 6-1.
His loss means Seattle won’t be able to field the receiving lineup it envisioned last March when it made a trade for Percy Harvin.
Harvin, who at 5-11 tends to line up more on the inside compared to Rice’s outside role, has yet to play this season while recovering from hip surgery on Aug. 1. He returned to practice Tuesday, but was limited later in the week and has yet to be put on the team’s active roster. remains unclear when he will return.
The loss of Rice will put more of a priority on getting Harvin onto the field to spice up a passing offense that has lagged recently.
The Seahawks had a season-low 91 net passing yards in the win over the Rams and rank 28th in the NFL in passing yards at 198.8.
With the trade deadline passing Tuesday, Seattle won’t be able to get anyone from the outside other than waiver-wire pickups.
Jermaine Kearse, a second-year player from Washington who made the team last season as an undrafted free agent, played more Monday night after Rice departed, on the field for 27 of 44 offensive snaps.
Seattle’s top two receivers are Golden Tate (32 catches for 439 yards) and Doug Baldwin (23-372). Kearse has eight catches for 128 yards. The only other receiver on the active roster is Bryan Walters, who was activated off the practice squad three weeks ago but has yet to make a catch.
Seattle also has two receivers on its practice squad, undrafted rookie free agent Arceto Clark and Ricardo Lockette. The 6-2 Lockette, who played two games for Seattle in 2011, was signed to Seattle’s practice squad last week.
Rice was in his third year with the Seahawks after signing as a free agent before the 2011 season. At the time, Rice appeared a budding star, having made the Pro Bowl in 2009 when he caught 83 passes for 1,312 yards for the Vikings.
But he has yet to duplicate those numbers with the Seahawks, in part due to injuries. He played in just nine games in 2011.
He played in all 16 last season and led Seattle with 50 catches for 748 yards. But he spent the 2013 training camp rarely practicing while dealing with knee issues. Early in camp, he traveled to Switzerland to have a procedure similar to Platelet-rich Plasma treatment on his knee, which he said was to calm down Patellar Tendinitis.
Rice, who turned 27 on Sept. 1, signed a five-year contract worth as much as $41 million, including $18 million guaranteed. He is due to make $8.5 million this season.
Given his salary and the team’s needs elsewhere, there has already been much speculation that the Seahawks might not bring Rice back for the final two seasons of his deal, either releasing him or asking him to restructure his contract.
Rice had three targets against the Rams but did not make any catches, and for his Seattle career he has 97 catches for 1,463 yards and 12 touchdowns in 33 games, 31 of which he started.