Combine, Culp Connection?

With the NFL Combine opening today, the Vikings have notched up the speculation that Daunte Culpepper may be moving.

One of the primary facets of the NFL Scouting Combine is the checking and re-checking of players with injuries. It seems only fitting that, as the Vikings top brass heads to Indianapolis to check out the young crop of college talent, that they're doing their own spin on the Daunte Culpepper situation.

The team leaked -- for a team that doesn't leak information, this should be taken at face value -- that head trainer Eric Sugmarman flew to Orlando this week and said that Culpepper is making good progress in his rehabilitation. What should be gleaned from that? That the information embargo is being lifted? Or perhaps that the Vikings are trying to put out the word that Culpepper should be ready to go in order to entice a potential trade partner.

The truth may lie somewhere in the middle, but is painfully reminiscent of activity at this time last year. At that time, trade rumors swirled around the Vikings contacting teams about trading for Randy Moss. Then, after rumors briefly died down, the Vikings pulled the trigger on a trade with the Raiders. The same could be going on in this instance.

With every NFL teams represented at the Combine over the next week, the Vikings will have plenty of opportunities to gauge interest from other teams. If that interest is as high as some believe it might be, the Vikings could pull a deal off shortly after the free agent period begins March 3.

* Several Vikings came out in support of Culpepper in the Twin Cities press, including key veterans Pat Williams, Bryant McKinnie, Antoine Winfield and Kevin Williams. McKinnie was the most outspoken, saying the trade of Randy Moss was "crazy," that he wants Culpepper to stay with the Vikings and that he could see it difficult to remain with the Vikings if Pepp is traded.
* Former Vikings defensive line coach Brian Baker signed on with Scott Linehan and the Rams.

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