What Happened To Smith?

He received plenty of hype during the preseason, some of it self-proclaimed. But did you notice that Onterrio Smith didn't even play Sunday in Green Bay? He knows what he needs to do to rectify that, and Mike Tice made sure of that.

It became obvious last week that head coach Mike Tice wasn't impressed with rookie running back Onterrio Smith's progress.

Smith didn't touch the ball in the season opener against the Packers, and Tice had a quick answer for the lack of activity for the self-proclaimed "Steal of the Draft."

"He's not ready to play yet — period," Tice said after the Vikings beat the Packers. "You have to know pass protection, you have to know your routes. ...

When I find a guy who can go in there and pick up his protection and knows his routes, he'll be in there."

Tice spoke with Smith about his progress before Sunday's game against the Bears.

"I need to see him run his routes at the right depth, at the right width," Tice said. "I need to see him take his pass protection down the middle. We know he can run the football, but as I've said throughout the preseason, there's more to playing running back for the Vikings than handing the guy a football."

Smith received Tice's message loud and clear.

"I have to come out and show that I can pass protect and that I can be a complete back and do what they want me to do," Smith said.

Smith, drafted in the fourth round by the Vikings, was the team's only contract holdout this season. He missed the first day of training camp. Now, with Doug Chapman's status in still in doubt for Sunday night's game against the Bears, Smith is expected to have the chance to show he learned from the lesson put before him.

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