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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    LB Smith finally paying dividends for Vikings

    From the Duluth News Tribune;

    LB Smith finally paying dividends for Vikings

    JON KRAWCZYNSKI
    Associated Press

    EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Raonall Smith has been a bust for most of his four-year career.

    But with the Minnesota Vikings shifting to a 3-4 defense, and with Smith finally staying healthy (knock on wood), the linebacker is starting to live up to the promise he showed in college at Washington State.

    The Vikings raised eyebrows when they drafted Smith in the second round of 2002, but injuries have kept him from making an impact, until this season, somewhat vindicating coach Mike Tice.

    "I really fought to have him drafted in 2002," Tice said. "We probably took him a little earlier than we should have, but we were really hurting for speed and playmakers at linebacker."

    Smith had six tackles against Chicago before the bye week and has impressed Tice with his play on special teams.

    "He has got brilliant speed for a big guy," Tice said. "He is powerful. He is a playmaker. ... He gets to the ball and he gets to the ball real fast. We are real pleased with him. I wish he would have done this two years ago."

    For once, Smith finally hasn't had to answer questions about an injury holding him back.

    "Let me knock on that wood," Smith said with a smile. "It's really nice to be feeling great and not have to talk about that kind of stuff."

    ---

    HOMECOMINGS: Several Vikings have roots in the Carolinas, so Sunday's game against the Panthers gives them a chance to play in front of family and friends.

    Koren Robinson is from North Carolina and attended North Carolina State. He said he has purchased 40 tickets for friends and family.

    "I'm excited man, it's going to be a fun time," Robinson said.

    Tight end Jermaine Wiggins played with the Panthers in the Super Bowl and still knows a few players from that team.

    Rookie Troy Williamson is from nearby South Carolina and starred for the Gamecocks before becoming the Vikings' top draft pick this year.

    Wiggins figures to have the best chance for a big day as his role in the offense increases. He has 12 receptions in the last two games.

    "I may not be the fastest guy I may not be the quickest guy but I have a feel for the game and I do what I have to do to get open," Wiggins said. "I always feel like when I do get an opportunity - make a play."

    ---

    BUMPS AND BRUISES: Tice said the team's injury situation continues to improve. He said giving linebacker Napoleon Harris Wednesday off helped dramatically with his sore knee, "so we will have a full contingent of players."

    Harris practiced on Thursday, as did Dontarrious Thomas (knee) and Nate Burleson (knee).

    Of course, that brings up an altogether different dilemma for Tice - deciding who to keep active for the game on Sunday.

    "We have a couple of tough decisions to make," Tice said. "Do we go with Spencer Johnson, C.J. Mosley, or both? Do you go with Dontarrious Thomas, Harris and (Heath) Farwell, all three or two of the three? So we'll see."

    Tice said that Burleson and cornerback Brian Williams have yet to completely recover from their knee injuries, but they feel good enough to play.

    ---

    PUNT RETURNER: After releasing Keenan Howry before last week's game against Green Bay, the Vikings are still searching for a permanent punt returner.

    Starting running back Mewelde Moore handled the duties last week and will again this week, but Tice is looking for someone to take the load off.

    "I'd like to get a couple of other guys in there and take a look at them," Tice said. "I think when Nate (Burleson) gets 100 percent healthy he will do it, but right now, Nate is not ready for that."

    ---

    LIWIENSKI STRUGGLES: Left tackle Bryant McKinnie is enjoying a breakout season, but guard Chris Liwienski is struggling in his return to the left side of the line.

    Tice called McKinnie's performance in pass protection last week against Green Bay "flawless."

    But as McKinnie, Adam Goldberg, Mike Rosenthal and Melvin Fowler continue to show improvement, Liwienski seems stuck in neutral.

    "Chris needs to just, I don't know," Tice said. "Chris needs to pick it up a little bit, I guess."
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Jon Krawczynski can be reached at [email protected]

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: LB Smith finally paying dividends for Vikings

    I see Tice realizes Lewinski hasn't been playing well again. I swear he must hold the record for drawing the most false-start flags.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  3. #3
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    Re: LB Smith finally paying dividends for Vikings

    "singersp" wrote:
    I see Tice realizes Lewinski hasn't been playing well again. I swear he must hold the record for drawing the most false-start flags.
    wurd...

    chris sucks more than monica...

  4. #4
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    Re: LB Smith finally paying dividends for Vikings

    smith is playing well, i hope he can keep it up as he will ahve to step it up this year.
    troy back in south carolina. we'll need his big play ability this week.
    i dont agree with MeMo taking punts back. let robinson do it. he doesnt play a big roll on offense yet, so let him have some value in returning punts and kicks.
    We're bringing purple back.

  5. #5
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: LB Smith finally paying dividends for Vikings

    This is certainly the week for them all to step up & win.

    Except for Edinger & Kluwe. I don't know how they could go much further they can go up! :grin:

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  6. #6
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    Re: LB Smith finally paying dividends for Vikings

    id sure like to see troy williamson make an impact in this game in front of some of his family.

    then, he'd be ready for our hopeful battle for first place in the division against the lions at home. (if both the lions and vikings win this weekend)
    "There is good and there is evil. And evil must be punished. Even in the face of Armageddon I will not compromise."

  7. #7
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    Re: LB Smith finally paying dividends for Vikings

    i have always liked raonnall

























    Go vikes!!

  8. #8
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    Re: LB Smith finally paying dividends for Vikings

    "gregair13" wrote:
    smith is playing well, i hope he can keep it up as he will ahve to step it up this year.
    troy back in south carolina. we'll need his big play ability this week.
    i dont agree with MeMo taking punts back. let robinson do it. he doesnt play a big roll on offense yet, so let him have some value in returning punts and kicks.
    Wrong Carolina. The Panthers play in Charlotte, North Carolina.

  9. #9
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    Re: LB Smith finally paying dividends for Vikings

    So it looks like Liwienski not Goldberg could be the one in danger of losing his starting job once Fonoti is healthy enough to try and take it away. Also good for Raonall stepping up his game in our 3-4 defense I wonder if we will ever go to a 4-3 again this year?
    Minnesota Vikings : Simply the best

  10. #10
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    Re: LB Smith finally paying dividends for Vikings

    "FuadFan" wrote:
    So it looks like Liwienski not Goldberg could be the one in danger of losing his starting job once Fonoti is healthy enough to try and take it away. Also good for Raonall stepping up his game in our 3-4 defense I wonder if we will ever go to a 4-3 again this year?
    Raonall was hot & cold in the 4-3, but seems to be playing much better in the 3-4. According to Loney, the 3-4 will stay this year. His words were, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

    Right now, I wouldn't change it either. Let's see how it works against the Panthers this week.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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