When Daunte Culpepper came into the NFL, he turned heads because of his size. Nobody had ever seen a 265-pound quarterback before and he was seen as the prototype of the future.
Culpepper has been replaced on that list by Mike Vick (Michael if your prefer) of the Atlanta Falcons. Blessed with the moves of a running back the pedigree of Barry Sanders and the rifle arm of John Elway, Vikings defensive coordinator Willie Shaw is going to be at loose ends to try to figure out how to stop the NFL's latest phenom.
Previous opponents have spoken. Vick is scary in every sense of the word. He can beat you with his arm. He can beat you with his legs. And, perhaps the scariest part, he's just learning the game and is only going to get better.
He's experienced his own set of growing pains. In the month of October, he didn't throw a TD pass in four games. Yet, his ability to freelance and make huge plays out of nothing is what terrifies defensive coordinators.
Some teams have opted to put a spy on Vick. In the case of the Vikings, that would likely have to be MLB Greg Biekert. However, if too much attention is paid to what Vick might do, players like Warrick Dunn, T.J. Duckett and Shawn Jefferson can kill you.
It's been a rarity when the Vikings face a team that is the enigma that the Falcons have become. Much like the Vikings in 1998, it took a seminal game -- a Monday night win at Green Bay -- to make believers. A week from Sunday, the Falcons play Tampa Bay. That could be the week the Falcons get the respect they deserve. Hopefully, they will be looking ahead to that game and not taking care of business on Sunday.
* Wide receiver D'Wayne Bates, who has battled through back problems, was added to the injury list Thursday with a knee injury. He is listed as probable and is expected to start.
* Don't be surprised to see much more of WR Kelly Campbell down the stretch. He has already taken over the role Derrick Alexander was filling and, if Bates continues to be slowed, he will be pushing him for a starting job by the end of December.
* Atlanta is 3-1-1 on the road, with its only loss coming in overtime at Green Bay.
* Atlanta started the year 0-2. Seeing as they enter Sunday's game at 7-3-1 it's worth wondering how good they could be. Their loss to Green Bay came in overtime at Lambeau and they also lost 14-13 to Chicago when kicker Jay Feely missed a field goal as time expired to give the Bears a win. Many who have followed the Falcons all year have told VU this team could easily be 10-1 heading into the Metrodome.
Stop Vick. Easier Said Than Done
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