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Vikings notebook: Gerhart signs contract

Vikings rookie running back Toby Gerhart heads to the practice field during training camp Friday. AP Photo/Jim Mone

MANKATO (AP) -- The Minnesota Vikings signed second-round draft pick Toby Gerhart to a four-year deal Friday, putting all eight of the team's draft picks under contract before the start of training camp.

The Vikings and Gerhart agreed to the deal a few hours before the team's first practice on Friday. Gerhart rushed for 1,871 yards and 28 touchdowns at Stanford last season.

Minnesota traded up to No. 51 in the second round to grab Gerhart, who will serve as a backup to Adrian Peterson. The Vikings needed Gerhart after Chester Taylor signed with Chicago in the offseason.

Gerhart missed all the organized team activities and most of minicamp while finishing school at Stanford and coach Brad Childress said it was important that he not miss any of training camp. The coach even sent his rookie a text message on Thursday night urging him to get the deal done.

"I got a text message saying 'Get here and get your mind right,' Gerhart said. "That's what I wanted. I'm here to play football. Here to help win."

Minnesota Vikings receiver Sidney Rice and cornerback Cedric Griffin are starting training camp on the physically unable to perform list.

Rice has a lingering hip injury that first surfaced during the playoffs last January. He participated in some offseason practices, but coach Brad Childress says the injury continues to bother him, so he will be out until it starts to feel better.

"It was his decision but also I'm not ready so we'll take it day-to-day, see how things go and hopefully be back out here as soon as possible," Rice said.

Rice had a breakout season last year, catching 83 passes for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns and earning his first trip to the Pro Bowl.

The team considered surgery but ultimately decided to let it heal on its own. Rice said there is "no doubt" that he will be ready for the season opener on Sept. 6.