Smith Returns In Limited Role

Onterrio Smith returned to Vikings practice Wednesday, but his role was obviously reduced. Plus, find out the highlights from the third developmental practice of the month.

Onterrio Smith was back at Vikings developmental camp Wednesday, but the troubled running back's role wasn't what it used to be. Before his rocky offseason became public after minicamp, Smith was generally considered the Vikings' No. 2 running back.

After practicing Monday and avoiding questions from reporters about being detained at the airport with a device designed to fool drug tests, Smith missed Tuesday's workout. That absence that was termed "personal." He returned to work Wednesday, but he was used far less than a normal No. 2 back.

Said offensive coordinator Steve Loney of Smith's situation: "I had a high school coach one time, he stuck his finger in a glass of water and he said when you're not here you're going to leave the same hole on the team as I'm going to leave in the glass of water when I pull my finger out. And it really is true – you pull it out and something else fills in there. To me as a coach, that's the approach you have to take. … Injury or personal situations, does that take away? Yeah, but somebody else has to fill in."

In one offensive drill, Michael Bennett, Mewelde Moore, Moe Williams, Ciatrick Fason and Butchie Wallace were all a part of different plays before Smith was inserted.

Bennett and Moore seemed to be getting the majority of the repetitions with the first-team offense, and Williams was used in his usual third-down role. Fason and Wallace were the main backs running with the second-team offense.

Smith was part of kickoff return drills, but Kelly Campbell, Moore, Keenan Howry and Troy Williamson appeared to be getting more work than Smith.

However the Smith situation develops, it was clear he was knocked down a peg on the depth chart Wednesday – at least temporarily.

"I know it's a tough time for him, but he's remained focused in our meetings and in practice. He had a nice run," Loney said. "He has to fight through whatever personal challenges he has."


  • Cornerback Brian Williams and safety Corey Chavous continued to be no-shows for the voluntary camp. Both are thought to be unhappy with their roles.

  • While most of the injured players from minicamp have returned to the practice field, Pro Bowl center Matt Birk and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams continue to be out of uniform, working out on the sidelines and in the weight room.

  • With Kevin Williams out, Darrion Scott and Steve Martin are seeing most of the action at defensive tackle with the first team. Scott is also rotating to right defensive end with Lance Johnstone.

  • Sam Cowart and Dontarrious Thomas are currently the linebackers being used with the first-team nickel defense. E.J. Henderson and Raonall Smith were working with the second-team nickel defense on Wednesday.

  • Tight end Jermaine Wiggins provided the catch of the day. On a red-zone play where Daunte Culpepper scrambled to his right to buy time, Wiggins got just enough separation from Raonall Smith to make an over-the-shoulder, sideline, fingertip catch.

  • Wide receiver Nate Burleson continues to practice with a broken finger, but he has been busy making one-handed catches when possible.

  • Jonathan Nichols provided a 44-yard field goal toward the end of practice.

  • Viking Update Top Stories