Bennett Timetable Pushed Back

Michael Bennett has insisted for the last couple of months that he was ready to make his return to the lineup Nov. 2 vs. the Packers. But, team medicos apparently disagree and VU has been told the return date is being pushed back.

Ever since Michael Bennett had his second procedure to help heal his ailing foot, VU has been skeptical about the return-to-action timetable being thrown out.

Our reason is simple. We were told by a medical staffer that historically such injuries often have a relapse period that would make playing even by midseason -- especially at a demanding position like running back -- an iffy-at-best proposition.

However, that hasn't been the viewpoint of most in the media, who have taken Bennett's projection of returning for the Packers Nov. 2 as gospel truth. It now looks like that won't happen.

VU has been told that the team is no longer targeting Nov. 2 as a return date. Instead, Nov. 9 vs. San Diego is the date being looked at.

While no specifics were mentioned publicly, VU was told that the mindset at this point is that if Bennett is healthy enough to play, his first two games would come on a grass field, instead of the unforgiving Metrodome turf. The bigger question when and if Bennett returns this season is what role with he plays with a team that has been successful without him?

* John Avery's future is looking more tenuous by the day. VU was told that Mike Tice is contemplating taking Avery off of kick return duties -- his primary job with the team. Onterrio Smith and Doug Chapman have been mentioned as possibilities, but a third candidate would be Nick Davis, who should be ready to be activated if called on by the Nov. 2 Packers game. If both Davis and Bennett returned, Avery is one of only two or three players that would be targeted for release to make room on the 53-man roster.
* Raonall Smith is another player who could find himself on the bubble -- if not now, certainly next season. The troubled LB has suffered injuries ever since setting foot in Minnesota. His latest injury is an aggravated hamstring injury, and it doesn't look likely at this point that he will be available to play Sunday.
* Kicker Jose Cortez will be released when the team is confident Aaron Elling's back is sufficiently healed, but that isn't expected to happen until after the Giants game Sunday.
* Kenny Clark was signed to the practice squad Monday. Clark, who was released when the Vikings signed Cortez, cleared waivers and returned to the team Monday. To make room on the practice squad, the team cut wide receiver Ben Nelson for a third time in two months.
* Whether motivated by Tice's practice antics of donning his jersey and pads at Winter Park last week or not, TE Sean Berton changed his number from 45 to 87 -- Tice's old number with the team. The number became available when the team released Byron Chamberlain.

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