Smoot Expected Back

Barring a setback today or Friday, Fred Smoot will likely return to the Vikings lineup Sunday vs. St. Louis -- but not in the role he might envision.

As of Wednesday, it was one month and one day since Fred Smoot collapsed after coming off the field with a broken collarbone. After being sidelined for a month, Smoot took part in his first full practice Wednesday and, barring something unforseen, will be in action Sunday when the Vikings look to make it six straight wins when they meet the Rams.

However, Smoot isn't going to be re-inserted into the starting lineup -- at least not yet. Mike Tice said Wednesday that Smoot may not like it, but the best he can hope for Sunday is to be the team's nickel back in passing situations.

"There will be some type of covering on the injury, on the fracture," Tice said. "He doesn't have any game conditioning. He hasn't even been practicing. I don't see him in the role that he wants to be in, which is 70 plays, but we'll get him going. If he can get through practice with a good level of energy and if he can use both arms, then we'll suit him up. If he can't use both arms, then we'll pull off of him later in the week and give him another week to rest."

While the Vikings may need Smoot on the field a lot since the Rams throw out All-Pro Torry Holt, former All-Pro Isaac Bruce and speedy Kevin Curtis on most formations, as of now, Tice intends to let Brian Williams keep his starting role that he took over when Smoot went down.

For those who think a player never loses his starting job due to injury, don't kid yourself.

* From the Kidding Yourself Department comes this: Tice said Wednesday that, regardless of what Brad Johnson does between now and when Daunte Culpepper comes back, if Tice is still coach next year, Culpepper will be his starter when he's healthy enough to play. Franchise quarterbacks don't lose their starting jobs due to injury.
* The Vikings haven't lost at home since the season opener vs. the Buccaneers.
* The team expects punter Chris Kluwe to miss Sunday's game and possibly the following week vs. the Steelers. But he is expected to return in time for the Sunday night game Christmas night vs. the Ravens.
* The pieces seem to be falling into place injury-wise for the Vikings. Marc Bulger won't play this week. Ben Roethlisberger isn't 100 percent for the Steelers next week and the Ravens announced Wednesday that Ray Lewis is gone for the year. Clean livin', friend. Clean livin'.
* Mewelde Moore worked out with the first-unit offense Wednesday and is expected to start.
* CB Laroni Gallishaw is expected to miss at least two weeks with a high right ankle sprain.

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