Just found this article on KFAN's web site. Sorry if everyone already knew this.
Smith to play in opener?
Last Update: 9/2/2004 4:04:25 PM
KFAN dot com
The Vikings' backfield might not be thin in Week 1 after all.
A senior Vikings official on Thursday told the FAN that running back Onterrio Smith, who faces a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, has "a 50-50 chance" of being eligible for the regular season opener Sept. 12 against Dallas.
Starter Michael Bennett is expected to miss the game with a sprained right knee, but could return as soon as Week 2 in Philadelphia.
Short-yardage specialist Moe Williams is slated to start, with rookie Mewelde Moore and Larry Ned also seeing action.
But the league has not ruled on Smith's appeal of the suspension, which became public three weeks ago.
Smith's ban is scheduled to begin Sept. 6. If a decision is not reached by Friday, the team could file paperwork to have him reinstated for the opener, the official said.
He still would face a four-game suspension if his appeal is denied.
The second-year back hasn't practiced with the first-team offense in two weeks. He likely would back up Williams if reinstated.
Smith, expected to be the No. 2 back behind Bennett, was a fourth-round pick of the Vikings in 2003.
Due to trouble in his college career -- he was thrown off the Tennessee football team for marijuana use, and was arrested for DUI after transferring to Oregon -- he reportedly entered the league in phase one of the substance-abuse policy.
Smith led all NFC rookies with 579 yards and scored five touchdowns last season.
What do you think? Smith could play in week one and then start the suspension, and Bennett could be back for week 2 in Philli.