Culpepper Willing, But Is He Able?

Daunte Culpepper is lobbying hard to play, and, according to a team source, he backed it up with his physical ability late this week. Find out what will go into the team's decision on whether or not to start the QB today.

Anyone and everyone associated with the Minnesota Vikings must have their mo-jo working thus far in the 2003 season. Regardless of the situation, whether good or bad, the Vikings have shown resilience, and possibly a little luck may be on their side.

Last this writer noticed, the planets hadn't aligned, nor had the league made a special concession that would predicate the Vikings receiving preferential treatment. The Vikings keep winning, and the team continues to overcome injuries that could have easily altered their quick start to the season.

If I were Mike Tice, I'd play the lottery.

From the onset of training camp, legitimate concerns ravaged this Minnesota team. Running back Michael Bennett was knocked out of action prior to camp due to foot surgery that hadn't healed properly. Key free agent acquisitions Denard Walker and Ken Irvin in the defensive backfield missed lengthy portions of practice time. At one point in camp, the Vikings were looking for able bodies to play in the secondary.

Scripting the start of the 2003 season could have compared to a Stephen King novel — downright scary. Despite the injuries, in spite of questions at one of the safety positions, and determined to stay the course, even without one of the better running backs in the game today, the Vikings sit atop the NFC North division.

The Minnesota Vikings have taken on the personality of their head coach. Strong-willed, maybe somewhat stubborn, this team does not quit. They are workmanlike.

Also, don't ever say that lady-luck isn't smiling down on Minnesota.

Early Friday evening members of the coaching staff, medical personnel, and briefly Daunte Culpepper discussed the possibility of the injured quarterback playing on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. Only five days from suffering three fractures and a partially broken bone in his lower back, Culpepper was impressive in practice, enough so that he will start on Sunday barring any setbacks.

"Daunte's (Culpepper) progress has been phenomenal. We really never would have seriously thought that he would be in a position to start this week," a team source said. "Saturday morning will be key as to what our plans will be heading into the San Francisco game. If he comes in Saturday morning without any problems from the Friday practice, then the odds are that we will let him start.

"Our medical people have told us he cannot suffer any further damage to the area, but he could prolong the healing process if he takes a shot to the back. This is an issue that we have discussed and certainly will talk more about if he comes in Saturday feeling okay."

The concerns for the Minnesota organization are two-fold in regards to Culpepper. They do not want to do anything that could cause a long-term physical problem to Culpeppr. Sitting him down a game right now may be best for an injury that takes no less than two weeks to heal, from all indications. But, the quarterback has pushed the issue with the coaching staff over the past few days.

"This kid (Culpepper) is growing into a leader, he is a great competitor and he wants to play. We have to make the right call to ensure that he is healthy enough to play. By all rights we shouldn't be having this discussion, but Daunte is proving that he is a quick healer," the source continued. "Right now we are in a position that either Daunte or Gus (Frerotte) could start this game, and we are confident with either one of them out there."

If you weren't a believer prior to the Culpepper injury, you should be now because something very special is happening in Minnesota.

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