Frerotte Accepting Role

Gus Frerotte is being asked to be a calming influence on starter Daunte Culpepper, and the 10-year veteran has accepted his role as a backup and sideline mentor.

One of the reasons the Vikings didn't want Jeff George as a backup quarterback again was because he wouldn't help the No. 1 quarterback — Daunte Culpepper — improve. In an ideal scenario with a younger No. 1 quarterback, a team's No. 2 quarterback is a veteran that can also serve as an assistant coach during games.

The Vikings are in that position now with Gus Frerotte. For the first time in his career, Frerotte knows he is clearly the No. 2 quarterback, and there is no controversy regarding who is No. 1.

"I feel I can still play, but I've accepted my role," said Frerotte, a 10-year veteran. "I've been having a lot of fun."

Frerotte opened the preseason completing 5 of 7 passes for 37 yards against Jacksonville. But during the regular season, the Vikings hope Frerotte's biggest contributions come on the sidelines when he wears a headset, not a helmet.

"He's there to add to the whole situation as far as being able to give some insight to the position," said Scott Linehan, offensive coordinator.

Having Frerotte is a luxury the Vikings would have coveted last season. Todd Bouman, last year's backup who is now with New Orleans, didn't possess the game experience Frerotte does. So when Culpepper came to the sidelines, Bouman offered insight, but it probably doesn't compare to that of a 10-year veteran like Frerotte.

"He is a guy that I wish we would have had last year," Tice said. "He brings great leadership. He is a calming influence on Daunte."

BLACK AND BLUE
Good news for Vikings fans. The Vikings aren't the only NFC North team that has lost a key player (Michael Bennett) for a large portion of the regular season. Look at the NFC North favorite, the Green Bay Packers.

In their second preseason game, the Packers lost nose tackle Gilbert Brown for the season when he ruptured his right biceps.

"It sucks," center Mike Flanagan said. "The defense rallied around Gilbert, but freak accidents happen."

In the same game, the Packers lost backup safety Bryant Westbrook for the season because of a ruptured Achilles' tendon. Special teams ace Torrance Marshall will miss the first four games, including the season opener against the Vikings at Lambeau Field, because of a violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

The Detroit Lions are also battling injuries. Defenders Dre' Bly and Robert Porcher both missed Saturday's exhibition game against Cincinnati. Bly, Detroit's biggest free-agent acquisition, is recovering from a sprained ankle. Porcher, the team's most experience veteran on defense, is hampered by a knee problem. VU




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