Smoot Backs Off Strong Offseason Words

Former Minnesota Vikings cornerback Fred Smoot was talking his typical smack during the offseason about facing the Vikings, but his tune has now changed.

Sunday is the game that Fred Smoot has been pointing to since the NFL schedule was released in March. Redskins at Vikings. But now that it's just four days away, Smoot is not quite so pumped up as he was this summer when he said, "I want to spoil their holiday."

Smoot, who was cut by the Vikings in March after two ugly years, had something different to say Wednesday about his return to the Metrodome.

"I'm trying to get to the playoffs, I don't care who we play," said Smoot, who has yet to reach postseason during his seven-year career. "Watching (the Vikings) going on a winning streak, I knew we were going to bump heads. I always knew the game was going to mean a little more than just me going back to Minnesota. I ain't got nothing to prove to the Vikings. I'm happy where I'm at, and I'm sure they're happy."

The Redskins are glad that Smoot is back where he began his career in 2001 and started for four years before following the lure of big bucks to Minnesota.

"We had a pretty good tandem in 2004, and Fred is playing as well as he was when he left," cornerback Shawn Springs said. "We've been playing a lot of (man-to-man coverage) the last couple of weeks, and he's been playing extremely well. I always tease him, ‘When you get with me, you play better.'"

A hamstring injury sidelined Smoot for three games in September and October, and he was coughing up blood during the Dec. 6 victory over Chicago, but last Sunday against the New York Giants, he was terrific in holding Plaxico Burress to just three catches for 35 yards.

"It's been a good year as far as me coming back because I love where I'm at," Smoot said. "I feel real good. Early in the year, the hamstring kinda had me down. Every time I got in a groove, it pulled back up. But my hamstring's been doing good, and I've been playing at a high level."

And often receiving "Smoooot" cheers from the home fans. Smoot knows that he won't get a similar reception on Sunday at the Metrodome.

"The good part (is) I won't be able to tell the difference," Smoot said. "The three or four fans I might still have there might put a little ‘S' in front and get Smoot out of it."

Smoot is unpopular in Minnesota because he was one of the organizers of the infamous "Love Boat" ride that helped destroy the Vikings' 2005 season and for which he wound up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor. Smoot was also hurt twice, benched by two different coaching staffs, held out of the 2005 finale for missing curfew and made it clear that he couldn't wait to get out of town.

"It was one thing after another in Minnesota," said Smoot, who re-signed with the Redskins three days after being cut. "I wasn't allowed to be Fred Smoot. Picture me depressed. I was hating going to work. I didn't want to talk to the media. I just wanted to play the games."

And now he gets to play his biggest game in that same locale.

SERIES HISTORY: 19th meeting. Washington leads, 10-8-0. The last time the teams played in the Metrodome, Oct. 18, 1998, the Redskins lost 41-7. Minnesota has won three of the past four meetings.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5-0 — Joe Gibbs' record in the Metrodome. Gibbs beat the Vikings in the 1984, 1987 and 1992 regular seasons, in a 1992 playoff game (his last victory of his first Redskins tenure) and beat Buffalo in Super Bowl XVI (the last of his three titles).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't take second kindly." — FB Mike Sellers, unhappy about being the first alternate to Minnesota's Tony Richardson for the Pro Bowl.


  • TE Chris Cooley and OT Chris Samuels were properly appreciative of making the Pro Bowl, but there was a bittersweet feeling in the Redskins locker room about the posthumous selection of S Sean Taylor.

    "It means a lot," CB Fred Smoot said. "It means they still value the work he put in. After about the fifth and sixth game, he had already (punched) his ticket to the Pro Bowl from the plays he had made."

  • Taylor's murder in his Palmetto Bay, Fla. home has some of his former teammates thinking about buying guns to protect themselves and their families.

    "I've always been scared about guns, but I'm strongly thinking about getting one," Samuels said. "Everybody talks about a small percentage of people having to protect themselves in their own home, but what if you are in that small percentage? What do you do?"

  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, history was made in last Sunday's Redskins-Giants game when Santana Moss led Washington with three catches for 75 yards and younger brother Sinorice topped New York with five catches for 53 yards. During the 42-year Super Bowl era, it was the first time that brothers led opposing teams in catches in a game.

  • With 10 1/2 sacks, DE Andre Carter is just 1 1/2 shy of DE Marco Coleman's total in 2000, the most by a Redskin since LB Ken Harvey led the NFC with 13 1/2 in 1994.

    The Redskins placed LB Rocky McIntosh (torn knee ligaments) on injured reserve, cut CB John Eubanks (foot) and promoted rookie free agent DE Alex Buzbee from the practice squad. They will fill their open roster spot later this week.

  • TE Todd Yoder didn't practice Wednesday as he battles a cartilage defect in his right knee.

  • RB Clinton Portis didn't practice Wednesday because of an illness.

  • WR Santana Moss didn't practice Wednesday because of an illness.

  • DT Cornelius Griffin practiced Wednesday after dislocating his right ring finger Sunday against the Giants.

  • S Vernon Fox practiced Wednesday after bruising his knee against the Giants.

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