3 Players Down With Flu

Heading into the final must-win game of the season, the Vikings found themselves without their starting quarterback, leading tackler and leading receiver Wednesday at practice.

The strain of flu that first reared its ugly head three weeks ago around Minnesota and, more specifically, at Winter Park, continues to claim victims. But this time, it's some pretty high-ticket items.

Daunte Culpepper, Antoine Winfield and Jermaine Wiggins all were excused from practice Wednesday to get rest and try to get through the illness. Veteran players like Terrance Shaw and Darren Bennett have had the symptoms for more than a week. The Vikings are hopeful that all three will be fine for Sunday's game. Culpepper wasn't listed on the injury report, while Winfield and Wiggins were listed as probable.

* Vikings coach Mike Tice played one year under Joe Gibbs, but says that season made him convinced he wanted to become a coach.
* With Culpepper out of practice, the Vikings turned to backup Gus Frerotte, who spent five years with the Redskins until an ill-advised head butt of a brick wall nearly ended his career.
* With Tice's contract extended, only Scott Linehan remains without a contract for 2005 and he's made it clear he wants to stay.
* Nate Burleson is 43 yards short of 1,000 for the season. If he gets there Sunday, it will be the 12th straight year the Vikings have had a 1,000-yard receiver -- dating back to 1993.
* There are 13 potential scenarios that can happen this weekend to determine the NFC playoffs. In 11 of them, the Vikings make the playoff and seven of them they finish with the No. 5 seed.

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