Culpepper probably won't play Sunday

Updated: October 1, 2003, 4:49 PM ET

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Daunte Culpepper didn't practice Wednesday with the Minnesota Vikings and will likely sit out another game to give his back more time to heal.

Culpepper was "a little bit sore," coach Mike Tice said. If he can't go through a full practice Thursday, the Vikings will announce Gus Frerotte as Sunday's starter at Atlanta.

"We are leaning in that direction," Tice said. "We need to certainly be very smart with that injury."

Culpepper broke three small bones -- another one was partially fractured -- in his lower back Sept. 21 against Detroit.

Frerotte finished that game and also led the Vikings (4-0) to victory last week over San Francisco with a four-touchdown, 267-yard performance that resulted in a near-perfect 157.2 quarterback rating.

Frerotte (128.2) and Culpepper (108.0) are the top two rated passers in the NFC.

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^OTHER INJURIES:@ Wide receiver D'Wayne Bates is not recovering well from a bruised bone in his foot that's kept him out the last two games and probably will a third.

"It's three weeks -- that's more serious than we thought," Tice said. "For a guy that's a finesse player ... they need to be able to run. If they can't run, they can't help you, so we'd rather rest him."

Nate Burleson will again start in place of Bates, and Kelly Campbell will be the third receiver.

Defensive tackle Billy Lyon (calf) and linebacker Raonall Smith (hamstring) remain questionable for Sunday, but both participated in at least part of Wednesday's practice. Wide receiver Randy Moss (back spasms) was held out of Wednesday's workout but should practice Thursday and will play Sunday.

Tight end Jim Kleinsasser (abdomen) and linebacker Greg Biekert (ribs) were getting better, Tice said, and are listed as probable.

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^ROSTER SHUFFLE:@ The Vikings elevated defensive tackle Colin Cole to the active roster and released wide receiver Robert Baker.

Ben Nelson, a former St. Cloud State wide receiver who spent the first week of the season on the practice squad before being released, was brought back to the practice squad.

Cole, who was cut Sept. 9 and brought back to the practice squad last week when Jermaine Mays was released, is a rookie who played at Iowa.

Nelson took jersey No. 17, and injured wide receiver Nick Davis went back to No. 86.

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^EXTRA POINTS:@ Culpepper was named the NFL's Extra Effort Award winner for September. It's presented to a player who has made a significant contribution to his community either during that particular month or on a continuing basis. Teams nominate players, and a panel chooses the winner. NFL Charities will donate $1,000 on Culpepper's behalf to the African American Adoption Agency in St. Paul. In June, Culpepper announced a $500,000 commitment to the agency. ... Former DB Rufus Bess, who played for the Vikings from 1982-87, was named the team's High School Coach of the Week for his work at North High in Minneapolis. ... The Vikings will practice Friday at the University of Minnesota, just like they did the week of the Detroit game to prepare for playing on a synthetic grass surface. The Gophers' campus field is similar to the Lions' Ford Field and Atlanta's Georgia Dome.

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^OVERHEARD:@ Tice, on the decision to start Burleson over Campbell: "Nate's a better all-around player right now. Blocks better. ... We don't want Kelly's little (butt) getting launched out of there and then we can't use him to run down the field."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index