EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings running back
Onterrio Smith returned to the practice field Monday with little
fanfare, and even less to say, after an embarrassing run-in with
airport officials was made public last week.
The news broke on Wednesday that Smith was caught at the Twin
Cities airport on April 21 with an elaborate contraption designed
to beat drug tests.
A search of a bag Smith was carrying turned up several vials of
dried urine and a device called "The Original Whizzinator," which
includes a fake penis, bladder and athletic supporter. An NFL
spokesman said using the device during a drug test would be a
violation of league drug policies, but it still is not clear
whether there are penalties for possessing one outside of a testing
Smith, who told police he was taking the vials to his cousin,
was back on the practice field on Monday for a developmental camp,
but did not speak to the media.
His coaches and teammates expressed their support for the
embattled running back, who has two strikes against him under the
league's substance abuse policy and was kicked out of Tennessee for
using marijuana. After being suspended for four games last season
for his second NFL offense, Smith could earn a yearlong suspension
with another violation.
"Onterrio, I love him like a brother," quarterback Daunte
Culpepper said. "I just tell him, 'You just have to be straight,
man. You always have to think before you react and make decisions.'
"He's a grown man, so I can't tell him what to do. I'm going to
support him and hopefully he makes everything right and takes care
of his business."
Until the NFL's investigation is resolved, it's business as
usual for Smith. Despite missing the four games last season, he
still managed to lead the team in rushing and is currently in a
battle with Michael Bennett and Mewelde Moore for the starting
running back spot.
Smith participated in all the drills in Monday's practice,
something that won't change until a ruling is issued by the league,
offensive coordinator Steve Loney said.
"No decisions were made based on how many reps he'll get,"
Loney said. "Until I'm told differently, his role is going to be
developed [as usual]."
Culpepper said he spoke to Smith on Monday morning to let him
know that he was behind his backfield mate, making sure all the
while that he didn't preach.
"I'm not his momma or his daddy, I'm his friend," Culpepper
said. "I didn't try to give him advice, I just told him to be
smart and try to make good decisions. But I'm not judging him and I
don't think anybody should. Nobody knows what goes on in him but
him. That's between him and God, but I'm going to try to support
him in any way, just like I would anybody else."
Bennett said his he thinks the scenario may have been blown out
of proportion and was confident Smith would emerge unscathed.
"He'll get through this," Bennett said. "I love him and I
While there are plenty of questions surrounding the situation,
one thing is certain -- nobody liked the thought of Smith being lost
for the season.
"I hope not," Culpepper said. "I don't know what really
happened, the logistics of what happened or why, and I don't really
care. That's his business. I just want him to make good decisions
and know that he's a big part of this team and we're going to need
him to win a championship."