Bennett To Get Start

The Vikings are going to start rookie Michael Bennett in the season opener Sunday.

When Dennis Green drafted Michael Bennett, he called him "a gift." Then he put his gift on the bottom of the RB depth chart, even though from the day he was drafted he was viewed clearly as the heir to Robert Smith's legacy.

Whether through injury or just the plan all along, Bennett will start Sunday when the Vikings open the regular season vs. the Carolina Panthers. Bennett hopes to live up to the Smith legacy in this game. The Vikings have played the Panthers three times in team history -- winning all of them at the Metrodome. In those three games, Robert Smith scored three rushing touchdowns and topped 100 yards rushing in every game.

* The Vikings have been established as a 9-point favorite over the Panthers.
* The Vikings continue to tweak their lineup, signing former Chicago OT Jerry Wisne. To make room for him, the team cut Shonn Bell, leaving just two tight ends on the roster. But, Bell may be signed to the practice squad, which has an opening. If that happens, the team would have two tight ends -- Bell and Matt Cercone -- on the practice squad.
* The Panthers are officially going to be missing three key players Sunday. WR Patrick Jeffers, RB Richard Huntley and safety Mike Minter are listed as out by the Panther training staff.
* At halftime of Sunday's game, Ron Yary will be presented his Hall of Fame ring at a ceremony that will include his being added to the Vikings Ring of Fame, which currently consists of Jim Finks, Paul Krause, Jim Marshall, Alan Page and Fran Tarkenton.

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