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If you like track meets, this matchup should have you salivating.
Sidney Rice, in his fifth year out of South Carolina, and Leon Hall, in his fifth year out of Michigan, may burn a hole in the turf as Rice speeds down the sideline and Hall attempts to cover him.
After a hip injury shortened his 2010 NFL season, Rice is looking to return to his 2009 form, when he caught 83 passes for more than 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns. In six games this season, Rice has just 17 receptions for 264 yards and one touchdown, hardly what the Seahawks envisioned when they inked him to a five-year, $41 million contract. In fairness to Rice, his offensive production has been adversely affected by Seattle’s lackluster quarterback play.
Despite that, he is a legitimate threat to make explosive plays in the passing game, and his five inch height advantage over Hall will make him a difficult cover.
When the Bengals failed to sign Johnathan Joseph in the offseason, the mantle of “shutdown corner” was thrust upon Leon Hall, and he has answered the bell. In 2011, Hall has one interception and 19 tackles.
His own stats are not as telling as those of the top receivers he has been charged with covering. In Week 6, Hall held Colts superstar Reggie Wayne to just five receptions for 58 yards without a touchdown. In Week 4, Hall was matched up with Buffalo Bills wide out Stevie Johnson. Johnson, in the midst of a stellar season, was held in check, catching merely four passes for 58 yards.
Hall is up to any challenge.
Prediction: Rice will catch a few passes, but Hall prevents him from taking over the game.