Daunte's Back A Big Question

The diagnosis on Daunte Culpepper's back isn't good, and the pending bye week could have as much to do with how the team proceeds than anything.

As tough as Daunte Culpepper is, seeing him wince in pain Sunday vs. the Lions was enough to let most observers know his back injury was serious. Just how serious was learned Monday, as an MRI revealed four small fractures of the transverse process bones that connect the spine to vertebrae in the back.

The problem with the injury is that it is extremely painful, but a player can still perform with the injury. Healing time is what is needed, not surgery. Typically, an injury such as his requires 2-4 weeks of healing time, but Culpepper refused to proclaim himself out for Sunday's game vs. the 49ers. Instead, he's proceeding as though he will be playing.

VU has been told Culpepper will remain at Winter Park 24 hours for the next few days to get round-the-clock treatments to help bring the injury along. He will be listed as doubtful when the team submits its injury report to the league.

From what VU is hearing from those inside Winter Park, the hope is that Culpepper can go Sunday. If he does and suffers a setback, the team will shut him down until after the bye week following the game with the Falcons.

* The FOX crew that was all over Randy Moss should have had their sideline reporter working a little harder Sunday. Tice made it clear that Moss was in pain from the pregame warmups and that it got so bad he had to remove himself from the game periodically. The FOX announcer team chided Moss for being lazy and "pouting" because he wasn't putting in full effort in blocking.
* Moss, who has never missed a game in his career, is listed as questionable on the injury report. But, when asked if Moss will play, Tice smiled and said, "Are you kidding?" -- a clear indication he expects Moss to maintain his consecutive games played streak.
* Michael Bennett could start running as soon as next week and begin practicing during the bye week if his rehabilitation continues at its current level.
* Jack Brewer is expected to return to the special teams this week after being forced to sit out the first three games.
* The Vikings released safety Ron Israel and VU has been told they may announce today that they have re-signed WR Robert Baker, who could provide depth with injuries to Moss and D'Wayne Bates.

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