Are Bennett, Hovan On The Way Out?

With all the lauding the Vikings have received for their draft largesse the last two years, a pair of former No. 1 picks have found their way from the pay window to the bench.

The Vikings are looking to avoid a repeat of last season, when the team collapsed under the weight of sub-par play from many of its key players. In the effort to stop the potential for Act II of the meltdown from happening, the Vikings have begun the process of taking steps to assure that -- at the expense of a couple of former first-round draft picks.

Both Michael Bennett and Chris Hovan have been sent to the sidelines. Bennett, who was on the field for just two plays in Sunday's win, has been officially replaced on the team's depth chart by Onterrio Smith. Hovan was deactivated Sunday -- his displeasure was evident as he wore both a hat and a hood over his head during the entire game Sunday, with more the look of a convenience store robber than a inactive NFL player.

Coach Mike Tice explained last month that this is a different season than last year and that comparisons that were being made were unfair. Now it seems Tice is bringing up last year's tumble more than anyone else -- apparently part of his pledge to not repeat it again.

Either way, the future is cloudy at best for both of the Vikings' No. 1 picks. Bennett may be dangled as trade bait after the season and Hovan, who is an unrestricted free agent, will likely be allowed to seek other offers -- perhaps former coach Denny Green could be a landing spot for both. But, if the Vikings are to be successful, it will be without full-time contributions from Hovan and Bennett down the stretch. If nothing else, that will be a change from last season.

* Despite getting hammered by the Packers last night, the Rams are still the second wild card team. If the playoffs were to start now, the Eagles and Falcons would have a bye, the Vikings would head west to play the Seahawks and the Packers would again host the Rams. Welcome to parity in the NFC.
* Adam Goldberg is expected to start at right tackle Sunday vs. the Bears and has a good chance to keep the job even when Nat Dorsey is healthy.
* The Vikings re-signed wide receiver Ben Nelson to the practice squad and released WR Omar Jenkins.

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