"To me, it feels like a deep bruise," he said. "It's not like a regular broken bone. It's something the doctor can't do anything about."
But Culpepper can. When rehabilitating his back, Culpepper had three main concerns:
First and foremost, Culpepper said the injury to his back requires plenty of rest.
With Culpepper, it is all a matter of how much pain he can tolerate and how effective he can be playing with the injury.
"It's going to take some time to heal," head coach Mike Tice said. "It's a matter of how much pain he can take and how he feels. It's not an injury that would put him in the hospital — it's a pain thing. If you walk around with a smile and with determination to heal, you'll get better."
Culpepper's short history with the Vikings proves he can play in pain.
In 2000, his first season as a starter, Culpepper started all 16 games. In 2001, he started the first 11 games before being sidelined with a knee injury. Last season, he started every game for the second time in his three years as a starter.
"This game is a physical game," he said. "You have to be able to play with some type of pain, but you have to be smart about it, too. You don't want to go out there and make it worse."
Even with the injury, Culpepper insists he won't wear extra pads to protect his lower back.
"For the short-term, I might," Culpepper said. "But as far as me wearing a lot of different pads, that's not me. I don't do that," Culpepper said.
Tice said they key to Culpepper's health this season is relatively simple.
"We just have to block better to make sure he doesn't get touched," Tice said.
Said tackle Bryant McKinnie: "You don't want anyone to touch him."