Mike Tice isn't one to mince words -- when he wants to. On the same day he said D'Wayne Bates (and, by osmosis, Kelly Campbell) will have a hard time getting rookie Nate Burleson out of the starting lineup, he made another bold prediction about a rookie.
With the national media suddenly enamoured with Moe Williams, Tice predicted rookie Onterrio Smith will rush for 100 yards vs. Atlanta. That comment has two important implications that need to be understood.
First, the prediction isn't that bold, since the Vikes offense and Falcons defense are both at the 150-yards-a-game mark. However, to get to 100 yards, Smith is likely going to need 20 carries -- something Tice has yet to give his young charge.
If that happens and Smith succeeds, the rehab of Michael Bennett could take on an entirely new meaning. Seeing as Tice released Byron Chamberlain without adequate replacement parts in place, if the Vikes continue on their current roll, Bennett won't be pushed back into action and will have to earn a starting role -- it won't be handed to him.
Whether he's trying to light a fire or not, Tice has raised the bar high for Smith. If he is in fact the S.O.D. of 2003, he'll respond. If he doesn't, all bets are off.
* In Thursday's update, a slam on former ESPN commentator Rush Limbaugh was removed through the editing process -- the daily update writer took a backlash-racist shot at Limbaugh the was rightfully removed by VU editors. But, Thursday Daunte Culpepper reacted to Limbaugh's comments about Donovan McNabb -- which implied that the national media embraced him not for being a good quarterback, but for being a black quarterback. While the VU staffer who made a racist analogy concerning Limbaugh now admits the error of his ways, the intent was to point out that the age of qualifying a quarterback by the color of his skin is outdated and ridiculous. One-third of the NFL has African-American quarterbacks as starters, including the Vikings. Culpepper said he doesn't care that Limbaugh resigned. Neither do we at VU. He was wrong and his employers didn't stand up for him. Cudos to ESPN. Here's hoping that that from here on through the only color that is mentioned on a player -- QB or otherwise -- is about his jersey and not his skin.
* Randy Moss left practice Thursday with soreness in his back. However, he will start Sunday.
* Chris Hovan was fined $7,500 for a sack on Jeff Garcia Sunday. Gene Washington, a former wide receiver who played for the 49ers (hmm!) levied the fine saying that, while sacking Garcia, Hovan landed on him "with full body weight unnecessarily." Isn't that the job of a defensive lineman? VU would like to see Hovan fight the fine and, if nothing else, get a description of what "full body weight" means in terms of fines in the NFL. If that's the standard, shouldn't Warren Sapp have been fined and/or suspended for nearly killing Chad Clifton? Oh, wait, he's not a QB or wide receiver and he doesn't play for the 49ers.
* Due to a scheduling conflict, the Vikes scheduled practice at the University of Minnesota, which has Field Turf similar to that used in Atlanta, has been canceled.
* Despite missing the final game of September, Culpepper was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month.