Chapman Out Two Weeks?

Mike Tice told VU a week ago that he didn't want rookie Onterrio Smith to start at Green Bay in the regular-season opener -- a tactic to minimize pressure on the rookie RB. Unless Moe Williams gets the start, it looks like he may not have a choice.

There was an audible groan among Vikings insiders when RB Doug Chapman limped off the field with an ankle injury. As it turns out, that groan was legitimate and could affect the Vikings' short-term plans.

Although the conventional wisdom is that rookie Onterrio Smith will carry the load while Michael Bennett is out -- from what VU is hearing that is likely to be all of this season -- Chapman was going to get his shot as the starter Sept. 7 at Green Bay.

That was, until his ankle got rolled up. From what VU is being told, the early diagnosis is a high ankle sprain -- the worst sprain you can have. It is severe enough that Chapman has already been ruled out to play vs. Arizona Thursday and will likely not play vs. the Packers on opening day.

If Smith has the team's confidence, the choices are easy. Let the rookie start, or let Moe Williams start and have Smith come in after the game has begun. It looks like Chapman is out of the equation.

* The first-unit Vikings offense got in the Raiders Red Zone on five of six possessions Saturday.
* Daunte Culpepper has yet to have a turnover in three preseason games. He has been praised for throwing balls out of bounds instead of forcing passes into coverage, which led to 32 turnovers attributed to Culpepper last year.
* VU is being told that not only has rookie WR Nate Burleson pushed his way past Kelly Campbell for the No. 3 WR job, but that, if he continues to play at the level he has shown, he will be pushing for a starting job within a month.
* One player who drew the personal ire of Tice Saturday was TE Sean Berton. After a punt that began with a block in the back, that penalty was negated by a ridiculously stupid personal foul on a late hit by Berton out of bounds. Tice not only grabbed Berton by the facemask to chew him out, he shoved him twice on the sidelines -- making his future come Tuesday's cutdown date a cloudy situation at best.
* When asked by VU, a team insider said that there is a "high probability" that all seven of the Vikings 2003 draft picks will make the final 53-man roster.

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