MICHAEL BENNETT UNDERGOES FOOT SURGERY
Michael Bennett is expected to miss at least half of the season after undergoing additional surgery on the foot he originally broke in March. Doctors removed bone marrow from Bennett's hip, mixed it with a protein, and then injected the mixture into Bennett's foot. It appears as if Bennett has something like a 50-50 chance of playing even half of the season.
The injury makes Onterrio Smith the fastest climber on fantasy draft boards. He scoots all the way up into the range of 20th among running backs.
Smith might be as good as Bennett. While not nearly as fast (Bennett might be the league's fastest tailback), Smith has above-average speed, along with good quickness and moves. At 220 pounds, he's a better inside runner. Mike Tice says Smith was the No. 1 running back on Minnesota's draft board in April. He slipped into the fourth round, apparently, because of injury problems last season and a host of off-field issues. Smith was arrested four years ago after police say he hit his girlfriend; he was kicked off of Tennessee's team for smoking marijuana, and he was arrested for drunk driving at Oregon.
Assuming he beats out Doug Chapman -- which should happen by mid-August -- Smith's numbers shouldn't be dramatically lower than what Bennett would have put up. The Vikings have a very good offensive line and run the ball often (they led the league last year at 157 rushing yards per game), so Smith might average 80 yards per game. He's an iffy bet to score more than 6-7 TDs because the Vikings will replace him with Moe Williams in goal-line situations. Smith also won't make much of an impact as a receiver; he has plenty to learn as a blocker and pass catcher, so the team will almost certainly replace him with Williams in passing situations.
The key for Smith: in the preseason he must prove he has enough speed to regularly score touchdowns from 5-, 10- and 15-plus yards. Of course he must also push Chapman aside. Chapman will open training camp at the top of the depth chart, but Smith will be given every opportunity to move up and we think he'll do it.
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