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Tice: 'It's in the league's hands'

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings running back
Onterrio Smith, caught recently with a device called "The Original
Whizzinator" that is designed to beat drug tests, will miss the
rest of the team's offseason program for undisclosed reasons.

"He's been excused from the rest of the offseason program and
he'll be gone indefinitely," coach Mike Tice said Thursday. "I
really can't speak about any reasons why or when he'll be back.
It's in the league's hands. We'll leave it at that."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said he couldn't comment on Smith's
status or elaborate on Tice's comments.

"He's been excused from the club at this point, by the club --
not by the league," Aiello said.

Smith's agent, Doug Hendrickson, did not immediately return a
phone call seeking comment.

Smith missed the team's camp on Tuesday for unspecified personal
reasons. He returned on Wednesday and worked out, but didn't speak
to reporters.

Smith was stopped April 21 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International
Airport after his bag set off a screening device. A search found
several vials of dried urine and "The Original Whizzinator,"
which is marketed as a way to beat drug tests.

Smith told police the gear was for his cousin. He wasn't charged
by police, and the NFL has said possession of the device alone
isn't enough to violate league drug policies.

Smith has two strikes against him under the league's substance
abuse policy, and is subject to a yearlong suspension with another
violation.
Smith, a fourth-round pick in 2003, led the team in rushing last
season with 544 yards.

Receiver Nate Burleson talked as though Smith was out for the
season.

"We have to hope for the best, hope he continues to keep his
head in the game and physically stays ready," Burleson said.
"We'll see him in a year."

Burleson doesn't think things will be any different with Smith
gone.

"We'll be the same team," Burleson said. "We have no choice
but to do the things we're doing. We still have a slew of good
running backs."

Those include Michael Bennett, Mewelde Moore, Moe Williams and
rookie Ciatrick Fason.

"He's a great competitor and I know wherever he's going to go
work out, he will be somewhere working out, getting himself ready
for the season," Bennett said. "My thoughts are just for him to
take some time for himself and just kind of get the things that he
needs to get together and go on about his business."