Culpepper Still A Question

Will he start or won't he? That has been the question all week long at Winter Park regarding quarterback Daunte Culpepper, and it still isn't completely clear.

The Vikings are still being coy about who will start for them at quarterback tomorrow in the Metrodome against Tennessee. The problem is that they haven't really tested Daunte Culpepper's knee this week in practice, choosing instead to go lightly on it in hopes that would accelerate the healing process.

Friday Culpepper split time with backup Todd Bouman in practice, but when it came to the faster-paced segments Bouman carried the load. However, that doesn't necessarily rule out Culpepper. He said the knee feels better and that he would know today "or maybe right before the game."

The Vikings are using the situation as if it were a big advantage not to say, with Dennis Green saying Wednesday that it would be a competitive advantage if they didn't announce a starter until just before gametime. Tennessee, however, likely would have prepared for both quarterbacks anyway, knowing Culpepper's status.

The advantage to starting Bouman would be that the Titans don't have much film of him to pick up on his tendencies. And while Culpepper's ability to make oncoming rushers miss has been well-documented, Bouman is no slouch of an athlete either; it's just that fans and much of the media haven't gotten a firsthand look at his abilities.

Winning has to be the determining factor, because the Vikings can't afford another loss. At least Dennis Green really can't. A loss would give the Vikings eight for the season through the three-quarters point. And with games at Lambeau Field in Green Bay and at Baltimore to close out the season, Green's first losing season since taking over the club in 1992 would almost surely be in the stars.

So whichever QB he deems as giving him the best chance to win -- a healthy Bouman or gimpy Culpepper -- is the one who will start tomorrow.

SATURDAY NOTES
* Randy Moss had a different approach Thursday at Winter Park. He was much more talkative and even accomodated a local reporter for a private one-on-one interview.
* Opposite Moss' sideline on Sunday will be Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson, who was the only wide receiver drafted ahead of Moss in 1998. But Moss told Tennessee reporters Wednesday that he has gotten over that whole proving mentality.
* It looks like Ed McDaniel could be out of Sunday's game or, at best, limited. If he can't go, Jim Nelson would likely take his place.
* Both running back Eddie George and Steve McNair are expected to play Sunday after being a mild concern throughout the week of practice.
* In Tennessee, they're expecting a lot of George. Friday the team hinted George, who has been banged up all year, could get 25 to 30 carries against the Vikings Sunday.
* In four career games vs. the Titans/Oilers franchise, Cris Carter has four touchdowns.
* The Vikings defense has really stepped things up in recent games. Over the last three weeks, the Vikings have allowed just 50 points -- the lowest three-game total since November, 2000, when the Vikings won three straight while allowing 49 points. The difference? In this stretch of defensive prowess, the Vikings are 1-2.
* Another props moment for the defense. In the last three games, 14 opponents series have been of the three-and-out variety.
* Vegas is off the Vikings hard. Tennesee entered Saturday as a 1-1/2 road favorite.

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