Smith caught with 'Whizzinator' at airport last month
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 situation.
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 support him."
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."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press