Vikings rusher has arthroscopic knee surgery

Updated: October 4, 2004, 9:42 PM ET
Associated Press

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings running back Michael Bennett will miss at least two more games and could miss up to four weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery Monday to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

Michael Bennett

Bennett, who hasn't played since spraining the knee in an Aug. 27 preseason game, reinjured the knee in his first fully padded practice Thursday when he was hit by rookie linebacker Dontarrious Thomas.

The injury was expected to push back his season debut until Oct. 24 against Tennessee. He was re-injured in Minnesota's lone bye week.

"We could try to rush him back and have him for New Orleans [on Oct. 17]," coach Mike Tice said. "I think we're better served to hold him out until Tennessee."

Bennett, a fourth-year back out of Wisconsin, rushed for 1,296 yards in 2002 but has been plagued by injuries the last two seasons.

Bennett returned to practice two weeks ago, but he was held out of the Vikings' game Sept. 26 as a precaution.

The Vikings play at Houston on Sunday. The Vikings ruled out starting middle linebacker E.J. Henderson against the Texans.

Henderson sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Sept. 26, and also tweaked his anterior cruciate ligament, according to head athletic trainer Chuck Barta.

"E.J. is making a lot of progress," Tice said, "but we're going to ... do the smart thing and not force him back into the lineup."

Rookie Dontarrious Thomas, who led the Vikings with 11 tackles after replacing Henderson against Chicago, will start Sunday.

Tight end Jermaine Wiggins (broken hand) also won't play Sunday, Tice said.

In addition to a $5,000 fine levied against Randy Moss for his role in a scuffle with Chicago players on Sept. 26, the NFL fined eight other Vikings a total of $23,500.

Wide receiver Nate Burleson, who absorbed the hit from Bears safety Todd Johnson that sparked the incident, was fined $7,500 for removing a Chicago player's helmet.

Six other Vikings -- center Cory Withrow, tight end Sean Berton, quarterback Daunte Culpepper, wide receiver Keenan Howry, guard Chris Liwienski and tackle Bryant McKinnie -- were fined $2,500 each for "entering the area" of the altercation. Running back Onterrio Smith was fined $1,000.

Six Bears players also were fined $2,500 each. They were cornerbacks R.W. McQuarters and Todd McMillion, linebacker Lance Briggs, defensive tackles Tommie Harris and Ian Scott, and safety Cameron Worrell.

McQuarters was fined an additional $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct on a separate play. Johnson was not among the Bears players fined.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press