Vikings-Colts Personnel Preview

Judging from their comments, the Vikings are ecstatic about getting Onterrio Smith back in the lineup, but even though the Colts defense is ranked last in the league, that doesn't mean the running backs will have an easy time of it. Get inside each camp and myriad notes and statistics before the Monday night track meet.

Keep an eye on RB Onterrio Smith when the Vikings play at Indianapolis on Monday night.

"He doesn't look good," coach Mike Tice said. "He looks great!"

Smith hasn't played since compiling 198 yards from scrimmage in the 27-22 victory over the Bears in Week 3. He spent the next four weeks serving his NFL drug suspension.

Smith took advantage of a new rule this season that allows suspended players to continue working out and attending meetings with their team. He is a chiseled 216 pounds, and eager to play again.

Smith wasn't allowed to practice with the team, but he and assistant strength and conditioning coach Mark Ellis conducted mock game situations to simulate the action Smith likely will see Monday night.

Rookie RB Mewelde Moore is listed as probable with a sprained left ankle. He will start barring a setback, but Smith will be a big part of the offense.

Tice is excited to have Smith back, especially since WR Randy Moss is expected to be held out because of a strained right hamstring that has bothered him the past three weeks. According to Tice, Smith brings a similar attitude to the game as Moss.

"I wouldn't even say I'm rusty because I was still able to go to meetings," Smith said. "I was in there, seeing everything that everyone else was seeing from the opposing team. I didn't miss a beat."


  • WR Randy Moss (strained right hamstring) is expected to sit out Monday's game at Indianapolis in an effort to be closer to 100 percent when the Vikings travel to Green Bay a week from Sunday.

  • QB Daunte Culpepper doesn't run as often as he used to. But he can still do it. He's averaging 4.0 yards per carry with 158 yards and one touchdown on 40 attempts.

  • TE Jermaine Wiggins' career high for receptions in a season before 2004 was 18. In his first season with the Vikings, he already has 24 catches despite missing two games because of a broken left hand.

  • CB Antoine Winfield leads the Vikings in tackles with 56. He needs two more to tie former Vikings CB Denard Walker's total for all of last season.

  • LB Chris Claiborne (strained left calf) will miss another game. The Vikings are hoping he'll be able to play against the Packers next week.


    One thing is certain. Colts coach Tony Dungy isn't about making wholesale changes on a defensive unit that is among the worst in the National Football League.

    He made that abundantly clear, even after watching Indianapolis give up 45 points, 33 first downs and a whopping 590 yards in total offense in last week's 45-35 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

    According to Dungy — who first made a name for himself in the NFL as a defensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings in the mid-1990s and then went on to build one of the league's most dominant defensive units as the head coach in Tampa Bay — the problem with the Colts doesn't have as much to do with talent, or the lack of it, as it does with execution of the team's defensive game plan.

    Indianapolis ranks 32nd in the league in total defense (418.7 yards per game) and 32nd in pass defense (305.9 yards per game). The only bright spot, statistically-speaking, has been the run defense, which is giving up just 112.9 yards.

    The team's defensive lapses, which have become especially obvious in back-to-back losses to Jacksonville and the Chiefs, primarily revolve around the Colts' inability to come up with big plays in third down situations.

    "If we can cut our third-down percentages from where they are now — about 50 percent — down to the mid-30s, that's the difference," Dungy said. "If you get two or three stops in a game, force the other team to punt, for us that's going to do it.

    "When you have a chance to stop a team or get them in a third-and-nine, you have to make those count. That's what we haven't been doing."

    With a high-powered Minnesota Vikings offense coming to the RCA Dome Monday night, the Colts don't have a lot of time to make wholesale changes.

    "We just have to play better than we have been. We have to cut out the mistakes that we've been making. We have to settle in with what we're supposed to be doing and just play," said fourth-year free safety Idrees Bashir.

    "We know that we haven't played well, especially the last couple of weeks. We've talked about it as a defense and we've talked about it as a team. We just have to play better."


  • SS Cory Bird is not expected to play against the Vikings. Bird was held out of the Kansas City game due to a strained calf and sore knee. He did not practice Thursday.

  • SS Mike Doss will probably not play against Minnesota due to a strained groin. Doss did not practice Thursday.

  • FS Idress Bashir practiced Thursday despite being bothered by a sore back. He is questionable for the Minnesota game.

  • CB Nick Harper saw limited practice Thursday but is expected to play against the Vikings. Harper has been bothered by a sore right shoulder.

  • CB Joseph Jefferson should be available for the Vikings game. Jefferson sat out last week at Kansas City with a sore tendon in his right knee. He practiced on Thursday.

  • CB Jason David will start on Monday night despite being bothered by a sore hip. David practiced Thursday with no ill effects.

  • OG Tupe Peko returned to practice Thursday after seeing very limited playing time at Kansas City. Peko had been bothered by lower back spasms.

  • WR Brad Pyatt should be able to play against the Vikings. Pyatt, who went through a full practice Thursday, missed the Oakland and Kansas City games with a sprained right ankle.

  • RB Dominic Rhodes will be available for the Minnesota game. Rhodes practiced Thursday despite some soreness in his right knee.

  • LB Keyon Whiteside is out for the rest of the year with a torn patella in his right knee. He was injured in last week's game at Kansas City.

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