Smith's Return Creates Pros And Cons

Running back Onterrio Smith will return to the lineup (possibly the starting lineup) Monday night, but his re-entrance after a four-game suspension creates positives and negatives, according to two coaches.

Rookie running back Mewelde Moore is expected to sit Monday night, but Onterrio Smith is back. Smith returned last week to the Vikings' practices and will be in uniform for the first time since Sept. 26.

Smith has missed the previous four games because of a suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Smith's timing for his return could not have been better, considering Moore was battling a left ankle sprain all last week.

"Onterrio has that type of personality like Randy [Moss] has, where he thinks he's the [man], he thinks he's the guy," Tice said. "He has that great attitude, and we love him for that. He thinks he's invincible. He thinks nobody can tackle him, which is pretty accurate."

Smith's return was a boost for the Vikings, who have been missing Moss' confidence.

"He brings an energy that we've been lacking, not only with Onterrio gone but with Randy gone," Tice said. "It's just that energy, that ‘I'm a bad dude' energy. We're excited to have him back."

The rotation of running backs does present a problem for Linehan. Forget about keeping players happy by giving them carries. The coaches are concerned about winning, which cures all unhappiness.

But having different running backs available week to week, series to series, play to play, poses an interesting quandary.

"You get out of your rhythm," Linehan said. "You call a play and you go, ‘Well, that's good for Michael [Bennett].' You call a play, ‘Mewelde's good at that play.' You really can't get in a rhythm. Then you're having to recall a play. You don't really have a lot of time; they really start that clock right away now. You really have to be in a great rhythm calling those plays. You have to pretty much stick with a guy."

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