Bennett Out ... But For How Long?

Earlier this week, VU commented on the slow healing of Michael Bennett's foot. Wednesday the news got worse. Thursday the Vikings and Bennett went on the record and the news may still be even worse.

Mike Tice kind of emerged from his bunker Thursday to discuss Michael Bennett. In a one-paragraph press release, Tice explained he was happy Bennett had opted for a second surgical procedure and hopes he can be back for at least part of the 2003 season.

Our question would be what part of that scenario would make Tice happy? Maybe he found some old "How to Deal With the Media" books of Denny Green's -- which likely went unread. When Tice says he was happy, it really means he finally quit sobbing in his office. When he said Bennett can be back for part of the 2003 season, he fears it will only be for the team Christmas party.

The bottom line is that this is a pretty drastic step the team is taking four months after what team officials deemed minor surgery and told media types from VU and elsewhere at the draft and minicamp that there were no setbacks. The latest procedure will involve extracting blood and bone marrow from Bennett's hip, mixing with an enzyme and injecting the solution into his foot to promote healing.

Whether Bennett was uninformed of the process or not, when caught by VU and other reporters yesterday he initially said he hopes to be ready for the regular season opener vs. Green Bay. Team medicos have backed that off to midseason at the earliest and many who have dealt with such injuries have gone on record with VU saying 2003 will likely be a complete wash.

Who's right? We can't tell right now, but we do know who has been wrong ever since Bennett had his surgery. Draw your conclusions on his timetable to recovery from that.

* The Vikings could announce as early as today the signing of sixth-round LB Mike Nattiel to a three-year contract.
* As of early Friday, only five of the players drafted on the first day of last April's draft have signed and the only first-rounder is Carson Palmer, who signed before the draft started.
* Bennett's injury has been compared to the foot injury suffered by Duce Staley that robbed him of nearly two years in the NFL.

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