Bennett's Status Uncertain

Running back Michael Bennett isn't expected to play tonight against San Diego, but the date of his return is far from certain as two sources give differing evaluations.

Apparently there is some confusion in Vikingsland.

First, you have head coach Mike Tice, who often uses the media as an outlet to motivate his players. Then you have running back Michael Bennett. When it comes to injury assessments, Bennett not only sees the glass half full, he sees water gushing over the rim.

Combine analyses from both Vikings and you end up leaving scars on your forehead from scratching so much out of bewilderment.

It isn't breaking news that NFL coaches don't always tell reporters the gospel truth. For instance, Tice suggested during the first day of training camp that Moe Williams would get more carries on first downs and second downs because he always produces. What Tice likely was doing was trying to motivate Mewelde Moore, who drew the ire of some coaches last season when it took him more than a month to recover from an ankle sprain.

That theory was only supported further this week when it was learned Bennett would miss Friday's exhibition game against San Diego with a sprained neck, and Tice named Moore as the starter.

Furthermore, Tice said Bennett was an "outside shot" to play the season opener against Tampa Bay.

"I'm not a doctor, but I know anytime you sprain your neck or tweak your neck or have neck spasms or whatever he has, it's hard to put a guy back in there, especially a guy who has taken a lot of hits, unless he is confident in that neck. It's another area where I am probably in my mind moving on with other players right now."

Bennett's side of the story differs greatly. "Hopefully I can play this weekend, but if not Friday, then next week," Bennett told reporters.

Before Bennett fans get too excited, they should remember a conversation Viking Update had with Bennett is his locker stall at the Metrodome after the Vikings' season opener last year against Dallas. Bennett was recovering from a knee injury that cost him most of the preseason and put him in civilian clothes for the opener.

"My knee is feeling great," Bennett said. "I'll be back for the Monday game against Philadelphia. It feels fine and I'm ready to go."

Rather than play eight days after his conversation with VU, Bennett returned about 40 days later. Rather than return on Sept. 20 as he proclaimed, Bennett made his 2004 debut on Oct. 24.

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