Smith Sitting...For Now

Typically, the last rookie to sign is a first-rounder. As the Vikings arrived at Mankato Friday afteroon, the only MIA rookie wasn't Kevin Williams, it was fourth-rounder Onterrio Smith.

The 2003 season officially began Friday with players reporting by deadline of 5 p.m. for training camp -- with one noted exception.

In his very brief time with the team, Smith referred to himself as S.O.D. -- Steal of the Draft. Friday, coach Mike Tice spoke more in terms of S.O.L. than S.O.D.

From what VU has been told, Smith agent Tom Condon, who also represent first-rounder Kevin Williams, was asking for contract escalators in the event Smith won the starting job and put together a huge rookie season. The Vikings aren't buying into that and Tice was quite pointed in saying that Smith missed all 14 developmental practices and was only at the team's primary minicamp.

While it is very possible that a resolution can be reached quickly, the talk on the Vikings side is tough indeed -- centered on the premise that a fourth-round rookie is holding out. In this instance, they may have a point.

* Interview attempts with Randy Moss Friday were futile. After the first question was asked about the 2003 season, Moss never broke stride, saying "I'm ready to play." We'll take that anytime.
* In a clarification to yesterday's story about the pending Kevin Williams signing, VU was told Friday that the contract dropped from seven to five years when the Vikings agreed to guarantee more of the money -- the previous offer had a $8 million signing bonus split into two payments -- in exchange for Williams deferring millions and agreeing to reside in Minnesota as part of off-season workouts. While probably not strictly enforceable, it is clearer than Daunte's bonus clauses for playing on special teams.
* The signing of E.J. Henderson Friday was extremely low key, but what some VU staffers believe that, by December, may be a critical signing.
* VU didn't cover the sad "Brett Favre-Chris Hovan" exchange of the last week -- or ask questions of Hovan about it -- because it's a non-story. If simply read the quotes from Favre, it's clear he's being baited into a situation by an Associated Press writer. For those who missed it -- you're lucky -- Favre was asked to respond to reports that Hovan kept a Favre jersey in his practice locker as a reminder. Favre, now entering his 13th NFL season, responded by saying his wife wouldn't let him have something Hovan-related "in my house." Eventually, after continued prodding from a reporter who knew Favre misunderstood the initial premise of the question, said Hovan should "get a life" outside of football. The only reason VU is commenting on this non-story is that Hovan was forced to respond to the comments, making a silly situation ridiculous. The fact that a rising defensive star has a rivalry with a first-ballot Hall of Fame QB isn't news, much less a Hall of Fame QB for the Vikes biggest rival. It happens all the time. NFL news is made on the field, not on the bulletin board.
* In an interesting twist, the Vikings have officially begun referring in team-created releases to Williams as the ninth pick in the 2003 draft, not the seventh pick as stated on draft weekend and thereafter.
* TE Byron Chamberlain may appeal his four-game suspension for testing positive for the drug ephedra. While VU takes Chamberlain at his word that it was honest mistake, VU's Adrian Hallsey summed it up saying in a "He Said, Pee Said" situation like Chamberlain is facing, his appeal may not even be heard, much less won. We tend to agree.

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