Culpepper Addresses Injury, Trade

Miami Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper talked extensively about his season-ending injury while he was with the Vikings, his trade to the Dolphins, and the highs and lows of his comeback from a serious knee injury. He even talked briefly about his problems with Vikings coach Brad Childress.

Daunte Culpepper's last play as a Minnesota Viking was a running play in Carolina that ended with a hit to his knee that tore three ligaments.

Since then, Culpepper has had surgery performed by one of the NFL's most respected surgeons, endured a long rehabilitation and much scrutiny from his former Vikings coaches, fans and the media.

Since his trade to the Miami Dolphins, Culpepper has been working behind the scenes to get his knee back in shape and has been practicing – albeit not at full speed – with his new team. At the Miami minicamp over the weekend, Culpepper finally fielded questions from the Miami media. Here is what he had to say:

Daunte Culpepper:

"Before we get started, I just want to say one thing. This is really like a déjà vu to me. When I came to the NFL in 1999, there was a lot of speculation about me. In 2000, when I became the starter, there was a lot of speculation because everyone wanted to know how I was going to do. And now since I've been here, I feel the same. There's a lot of questions, a lot of speculation. People want to know what I'm made of and how I'm going to do. I feel like it's a déjà vu situation for me. I just wanted to let you all know that. I'm very excited and glad for the opportunity."

People wonder what you're made of or if you're all right.

"I think it's all part of it. I don't know many people that have come back from an injury like this. For the most part, physically I feel great. I'm coming along, moving along, but it's a day-by-day process. It's a lot of work. I'm just glad to go through practice and not have any setbacks so far. So I feel pretty good."

Are you surprised?

"Not really because I'm a guy that thrives off determination, and I'm determined to be successful in anything I do. This is another roadblock. It's a tough roadblock, but I'm glad for the opportunity. I just have to keep doing the things I've been doing."

What do you attribute your progress to?

"When I chose my surgeon down in Alabama, Dr. Andrews, I did my homework on a couple of guys, and I found out he was one of the best. When I woke up out of surgery, he told me we did some double knotting, some double tying, and reinforced some of those ligaments in there for you. I said that's all I needed to hear because the rest is on me to get in the weight room to get back to walking. Once I got to running and jogging, I knew I was going to continue to strengthen. I got a lot of help from my trainers here and even my training staff in Orlando, who I was working with at HealthSouth. They did a tremendous job with me."

Did (Brad) Childress and Minnesota situation add to the determination?

"Absolutely. Absolutely. That goes to show you ... that was a new regime up there. Those guys, I don't think they really knew me. If they did, they wouldn't question my attitude and my determination to come back and be ready. It happened that way, and things always seem to work out the way they should work out. I'm glad for the opportunity I have here."

Is the voice in your head telling you not to do certain things?

"That voice is there. But at the same time, I know how to push it and where to go. I know my limits. Before you guys got here, for the last two and a half months I was out here working, running around, cutting to see where I'm at before we got to this point. I've done a lot of preparation to get here, so I know where my limits are and how far to push it."

Is the voice diminishing at all?

"It's like you have that good angel and bad angel on your shoulder. I just have to use good decision-making. If that ball would have been around a bunch of people, no, I definitely wouldn't have done that. Me, knowing my job and the situation we were in, in two minute, I have to get on that ball."

How do you rehabilitate your mind?

"I was at a low point. When you get hurt and you're up in the bed and can't walk, you start back at your foundation. I had a great foundation. I had my family with me, my wife with me every day. I had certain people to help lift me up, and everybody needs that. I'm glad for them. Once I'm able to get back on my feet and get going, then it's all on me to continue to push myself. Mentally, I was always there to keep it going, but at the same time, I had a great supporting cast around me. I still have that today, and I thank them for it."

What is it like being in a new system?

"I think it's great that Coach (Scott) Linehan, he's been one of my best coaches and I love him. He's not here now, but he put his system in here. Making the transition wasn't as tough as a lot of people might think because a lot of the plays and a lot of the terminology is almost the same. I knew a lot of the audibles and packages. I'm more excited about just getting out and doing it. The playbook wasn't a problem. It was just about getting out and doing it."

Will you be ready for the exhibition opener?

"That's the perfect world. I would love that. But at the same time, we just have to take it day-by-day. I'm not making any predictions. I would love to be ready. That's my goal. There are limitations with an injury like this, and I have to continue to work on it."

What are your limitations?

"I'm just going to be smart about it. I'm not going to go out and make a crazy cut if I don't have to or do something crazy. I'm just going to go through the motions and get a feel for how I'm feeling. So far I haven't had any setbacks, and I'm glad for it."

Why does it feel like déjà vu?

"When you think about 2000, a lot of people were questioning where this guy from Central Florida was coming from? Now I feel a lot of the same things. A lot of great players around me, good coaching staff, great system. Now it's just me doing my role, doing my part and not being Super Man. Just doing my part and helping us be successful."

What was the lowest low?

"The day I was injured. To be carried off the field, I've never been carried off the field at any point in my life in any sport. Not to walk off on my own power was my lowest point. Just having someone to help me go to the bathroom. People don't see all that. That's what really makes you happy and continue to push hard and to be the best you can be for those times like that when you're at your lowest point."

When did you start to feel comfortable?

"I have to give a lot of credit to the whole trade. Me getting down here, having a new start, coming back home, that kind of solidified a huge change for me. I'm glad for it."



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