Vikings Around the League

Several prominent former Vikings have been making headlines around the league for varying reasons. Find out how they've been doing, what they've been saying, what others have been saying about them and their anticipated roles in 2006.


Comeback quarterbacks are making headlines around the NFL, especially Carson Palmer of the Bengals, whose rehabilitation from a knee injury suffered in last season's playoffs, was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Meanwhile, Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper, was also in the news, although the headlines were limited to the Miami area.

Coach Nick Saban revealed that Culpepper has been given medical clearance to practice his drops and nearly every skill needed to play his position.

"He may not do it quite as quickly, but he's doing it and effectively enough to participate," Saban said.

Saban won't go on record predicting when Culpepper will play, but it appears he could play in at least one exhibition game.

As for Palmer, his SI cover shows him in a pool, with the headline simply, "The Rehab of Carson Palmer."

"It's definitely flattering to be on the cover of any magazine," Palmer said, "especially a magazine like that, but it's not like I'm on it for winning a big game. I'm on it for being dinged up. When you're on it because you're injured and not able to practice, it's not as good. But it's still a huge honor."


He had grown accustomed to starting during most of his career in the NFL. But at the age of 35, Todd Steussie knows he can't be choosy if he wants to keep playing. So, he signed a one-year contract with the Rams as a backup tackle behind Orlando Pace and Alex Barron, but before he knew it, there he was lining up with the first unit in minicamp at left guard because Claude Terrell was unable to practice because of a wrist injury.

"It's maybe working outside the comfort zone a little bit, but ... wherever they need me, I'm willing to go," Steussie said of playing guard.

He also understands his role as a probable backup.

"You maybe don't get to compete as much on Sunday, but I enjoy the locker room, I enjoy the guys, I enjoy the competition during the week," the former Vikings first-round draft pick said. "I had some guys that when I first got in the league were able to advance my understanding of the game a lot quicker, and if that's my role on this team, I'll be happy to do it.

"It's an opportunity to continue a career that has changed a little bit over the years. But it's still a lot of fun, and I enjoy it quite a bit."

Steussie was with Tampa Bay last season, but while playing in every game, he didn't start any. He could have stayed with the Bucs, but said, "They had a youth movement going on; the locker room was starting to look a little crowded. I saw a better opportunity here."

He also liked the fact that new Rams offensive line coach Paul Boudreau was his position coach for two years with the Carolina Panthers.

"I've always had a lot of respect for him," Steussie said. "From the moment I played under him at Carolina, we saw eye to eye technique-wise. What he preaches is what I do."

In his first 10 seasons with Minnesota and Carolina, Steussie started 159 of a possible 160 regular-season games. So, pardon him, if he admits to taking a while getting used to not starting.

"That was a humbling experience," he said. "But in a lot of ways, to be humbled is probably a positive thing in the long run. Adversity is where most of life's lessons are learned.

"I feel like I still could start if given the opportunity. But it's also a game where coaches are always looking for the younger guy to develop. And I understand that. But if I'm given the opportunity to play, I plan to make the most of it."


Running back Michael Bennett, who was signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Saints in March, continues to be the topic of trade talk with at least three teams.

The Saints have apparently talked to the Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs about Bennett, a former first-round draft pick who played his first five seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

The 27-year-old Bennett was signed to be the primary backup to Deuce McAllister, but those plans changed when Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush fell to the Saints with the second pick in the April draft.

Reportedly, the Texans have made the biggest push to acquire the 5-foot-9, 209-pound Bennett. He signed a two-year contract with a reported signing bonus near $1 million and base salaries of $700,000 this season and $1.2 million in 2007.


The Eagles traded wide receiver Billy McMullen to the Minnesota Vikings for undrafted rookie wide receiver Hank Baskett earlier this month. McMullen, a third-round pick in the 2003 draft, had been a disappointment, catching 22 passes in three seasons.

The Eagles worked out the 6-4, 220-pound Baskett before the draft and were considering signing him, but the Vikings beat them to the punch.

"Philadelphia traded a third-round draft pick for me," Baskett said.

The Eagles drafted two wide receivers — Jason Avant (fourth round) and Jeremy Bloom (fifth round) — but neither has Baskett's size or leaping ability. They have the option of putting him on the practice squad next season, which they didn't have with McMullen.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "When I got hired, people from Minnesota said, `Hey, you're going to love Randy Moss.' And I don't see anything that has changed that." — Raiders coach Art Shell on his most high-profile star.

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