A VU reporter happened to be following Daunte Culpepper up the steps from the Vikings locker room to the press box Sunday at Metrodome. It was a long walk, since Culpepper was wincing with each step, trying to take pressure off his painful left knee, bent wrong while throwing an incompletion on the run in the fourth quarter.
At the time, the VU reporter thought the injury was more serious than coach Dennis Green was letting on, since Culpepper was using the shoulder of a friend as a makeshift crutch to climb the two flights of stairs. Wednesday, VU's hunch was confirmed. Green said there is still swelling in Culpepper's knee and that there may be some ligament damage.
Culpepper underwent an MRI Wednesday, the results of which should be known today, but, if the final drive of the game was any indication, the injury could be serious. Culpepper was playing flat-footed and was open to a series of shots from Bears defenders, who saw his vulnerable condition and came with blitzes on every pass play after he sustained the injury. The blitz-happy Steelers are also aware of his vulnerability and will likely be planning the same for him if he gets the O.K. to play.
For his part, Culpepper told VU Wednesday he is still in pain but expects to play, saying, "We all play with injuries, it's part of the game." If he can't go after the results of the MRI are returned, backup Todd Bouman, who took most of the snaps in Wednesday's practice, will get his first start.
* What's the point of an injury report? The Vikings listed Dave Dixon (calf) and Willie Howard (knee) as questionable, even though both are not expected to see any action. Wouldn't that make them doubtful?
* All others on the injury report were listed as probable, including Culpepper, Corbin Lacina (calf), Brad Badger (toe), Kailee Wong (knee), Ed McDaniel (ankle) and Jim Kleinsasser (ankle). Again, the point is lost on the injury report, since there are serious doubts that Lacina, Wong or Kleinsasser will play Sunday.
* The only serious injury the Steelers come into the game with is guard Rich Tylski. The Steelers need him in the lineup, since the run blocking for Pittsburgh has taken a major hit since the season-ending loss of TE Mark Bruener -- one of the game's best blocking tight ends.
* Kordell Stewart is considered one of the game's wild scramblers, yet he has only one-third the rushing yards as Jerome Bettis. Donovan McNabb has seen RBs Duce Staley and Correll Buckhalter split time at running back and both have more than 100 more rushing yards than McNabb. Why is this significant? Heading into this week, Culpepper is the only quarterback who leads his team in rushing. He has 416 yards -- almost 100 yards more than Michael Bennett and just 65 less than Bennett and Doug Chapman combined.
* Of the eight rushing touchdowns the Vikings have, none are by Bennett or Chapman. Culpepper has five, Travis Prentice has two and Kleinsasser has one.
* How old is Gary Anderson? The former Steeler returns home to where he spent his first 13 seasons Sunday. When he was a rookie, he would come in when his offense -- led by Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris -- would sputter.
Culpepper Undergoes MRI
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