Smith Done For Offseason, Likely More

Vikings running back Onterrio Smith was missing from practice again Thursday, and he'll be missing for the rest of the offseason, leading to speculation that a potential year-long suspension could be announced in the future.

Running back Onterrio Smith's future has been in doubt for more than a month. Before the draft, Viking Update was hearing rumors that the running back had failed another drug test. Now it looks like those rumors are coming to fruition.

Smith did not attend the Vikings' Thursday practice, the final day of their developmental camp in May.

"He's been excused from the rest of the offseason program and he'll be gone indefinitely," head coach Mike Tice said after practice. "I really can't speak about any reasons why or when he'll be back. I think it's in the league's hands and we'll just leave it at that."

The league office did not confirm those rumors Tuesday. League spokesman Greg Aiello told Viking Update he had not heard about Smith failing a recent drug test and said that even if he had, the league wouldn't announce a suspension until the player was allowed time to appeal, which could take several weeks, he said.

Smith's precarious position in relation to the suspended list may have contributed to the Vikings drafting Ciatrick Fason out of the University of Florida in the fourth round of the 2005 draft. It also might have increased their interest in trading up from the No. 7 overall pick to try to obtain either of the two heralded Auburn running backs, Ronnie Brown or Carnell Williams. The Vikings were unable to reach a trade to select either of those two backs, and both were off the board by the time the Vikings' seventh overall pick was executed.

Instead, the Vikings traded up in the fourth round, giving up their original fourth-round pick as well as their fifth-rounder, to obtain Fason.

"With Fason in the group, we're pretty solid in that group," Tice said Thursday. "He has shown the ability to go forward. He's not a dancer. He's more of a Moe Williams type runner. You add him to the mix and we're pretty solid in there. Obviously, you're concerned about injuries, but they happen. Michael (Bennett) has had a brilliant offseason and I think is really making the competition thing for the No. 1 job a joke, in my opinion. We pray that he stays healthy.

"I feel good about our running back situation. I wish we had the other guy – we don't, so we move forward."

  • Vikings coach Mike Tice's youth football clinic will be June 18 at St. Thomas University. The clinic, which runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., will feature several Vikings players and coaches, and University of Minnesota football coach Glen Mason will be the keynote speaker. For more information, contact the Vikings' community relations director, Brad Madsen, at 952-828-6590.

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