NFL Europe Players Return

Onterrio Smith is officially suspended for the season, but the Vikings will be getting an influx of camp bodies this week and next with the return of their NFL Europe-allocated players, some of whom were in attendance at Tuesday's workout. Plus, get other notes from practice.

The biggest news of Tuesday's developmental camp was running back Onterrio Smith's one-year suspension becoming official with an announcement from the NFL. But Smith's teammates – most of them anyway – remained hard at work.

Still absent were running back Moe Williams (excused for personal business), and defensive backs Corey Chavous and Brian Williams, who are reportedly unhappy with their contract or roster situation.

But with the absences of the veterans came an influx of younger players Tuesday, as some of the Vikings' NFL Europe-allocated players rejoined the team. Offensive lineman Brandon Newton and punter Travis Dorsch were in attendance but not in uniform.

Newton started all 10 games for the Hamburg Sea Devils.

Dorsch punted five times for 194 yards, a 38.8-yard average, for the Rhein Fire on Saturday with a long of 50 yards and three inside the 20-yard line. Dorsch finished his season in Europe with a 42.5-yard average to lead the league in punting. Darren Bennett is expected to be the Vikings' starting punter, but Dorsch may be able to put up a fight for the spot.

Guard Shannon Snell, wide receiver Aaron Hosack and quarterback Jason Fife were not in attendance at Tuesday's practice.

Hosack had seven catches for 118 yards and a touchdown for the Frankfurt Galaxy Saturday. He finished the NFL Europe season with 22 catches for 317 yards, a 14.4-yard average, and four touchdowns. He played in only four games because of an early-season injury.

Snell started all 10 games for the Berlin Thunder and will play in World XIII on Saturday against Amsterdam.

Fife completed 12 of 21 passes for 81 yards for Rhein this season.


The Vikings already knew they would be without the services of running back Onterrio Smith for the season, but with the official news being handed down Tuesday, their first thoughts were about helping Smith overcome his problems.

Smith was suspended for the season after his third violation of the league's substance abuse policy. He was suspended for four games last year after his second strike against the drug policy.

"When things like this happen you have to first think of the player," offensive coordinator Steve Loney said. "Your thoughts don't go to the team, but certainly there are some issues that Onterrio individually will work through. The nice thing, due to the policy he doesn't have to work through them by himself. I know the NFL will give him the support necessary for him to overcome his problems, and like all problems as individuals you have to want to solve them yourself. So there are individual things he'll have to address, but certainly he's not out there by himself. We first off hate for him as an individual to have to go through this, but certainly I know the league and the organization will, according to the policy, do all that we can to help him to overcome his problems.

"The game itself is bigger than any one individual, but when it comes to problems like this the individual is certainly the main concern."

Smith can apply for reinstatement after the 2005 season.


  • Cornerback R.W. McQuarters, who visited Winter Park last week, is still not signed. He is said to be contemplating his options, as he has visited with five teams in the last few weeks.

  • Despite weather forecasts calling for rain much of the day, the Vikings practiced outside again Tuesday. The Eden Prairie facility saw some rain early in the morning, but the practice fields were generally in good condition, if not a little slippery at times.

  • Head coach Mike Tice spent some time going over certain situations with the defensive linemen, concentrating on specific times when a quarterback would try to draw them offsides with a hard count.

  • Offensive lineman Marcus Johnson spent a few downs with the first-team offense at right tackle.

  • Wide receiver Troy Williamson dropped one relatively easy pass in the middle of the field, but came back later with other more difficult catches near the sideline and in the back of the end zone.

  • Linebacker Napoleon Harris intercepted a Daunte Culpepper pass that was deflected by Antoine Winfield. Harris made a point to find Culpepper after the play was over and hand him the ball.

  • Sam Cowart intercepted another Culpepper pass after tight end Jermaine Wiggins tipped the ball in the air.

  • Nickel back Ralph Brown had a tough pass broken up against Williamson, stripping him of a would-be reception in tight coverage.

  • Wide receiver Ben Nelson had the catch of the day, making an over-the-shoulder grab while being pushed and pulled by cornerback Dovonte Edwards.

  • Later, wide receiver Travis Taylor had a 27-yard touchdown pass from Culpepper despite tight coverage from Edwards.

  • Erasmus James used his big frame to jump up and bat down a pass at the line of scrimmage from his right end position.

  • After batting a ball away from a receiver, cornerback Fred Smoot made sure Culpepper knew it was Smoot causing the incompletion, telling Culpepper the Vikings defense had a "New World Order."

  • Kicker Aaron Elling ended practice with a 39-yard field goal, the only full-team field goal attempt of the day.

  • For the second straight day, center Matt Birk was at Winter Park after hip surgery last week. "I think everything is going as planned and it's going to be a long process and a long rehabilitation," Loney said of Birk. "I think everything is fine though."

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