All is quiet on the ship

Fred Smoot has gone quiet this week. The normally talkative Vikings cornerback claims he doesn't care if Carolina receiver Steve Smith is able to overcome a hamstring injury and play in Sunday's game at the Metrodome. "If he plays he plays, if he doesn't he doesn't," Smoot said.

Given the fact Smith caught 11 passes for a team-record 201 yards and added a touchdown last October in Carolina's 38-13 victory over the Vikings that's a bit hard to believe.

Smoot was on the hook for most of those stats because former coach Mike Tice had picked him to cover Smith for the entire game.

In addition to routinely getting burned, Smoot also was called for four penalties and had Smith make fun of him after a 69-yard catch by making a rowing motion while sitting in the end zone. This was in the weeks after the Vikings' infamous love-boat incident.

"I feel like we want to win, Smoot said, asked again about getting a bit of revenge. "I'm not worried about evening the score. I want to be 2-0 when the game is over with."

Smoot's teammates, however, know that this game holds special importance and make it clear Smoot will get plenty of help this time.

"I'm sure he's excited about it," cornerback Antoine Winfield said. "It was unfortunate that Steve went over 200 yards on him last year. But it wasn't all about him. It was the rush, just the whole defense in general.

This year we're going to take some pressure off of him, we're going to be jamming (Smith) a lot, putting the safety over top."

That's if Smith is able to play. And that appears to be a big if. Smith missed the Panthers' season-opening loss to Atlanta and has made it clear he won't rush back from an injury that could nag him all season long if it doesn't heal.

Dwight Smith, who was inactive for the Vikings' opening game for disciplinary reasons but is expected to start, knows how much damage Steve Smith can do if given the opportunity. That's a big reason the Vikings are preparing as if he will play.

"It's hard to keep a guy like that in check," said Dwight Smith, who joined the Vikings after spending his career playing on two of Carolina's NFC South rivals, Tampa Bay and New Orleans. "He didn't lead the NFL in receiving yards, receptions and touchdowns last year for not being the guy he is. Hopefully we can just get out there and do what we're supposed to do and be the places we are supposed to be. Stop him from making the big play."

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