Vikings' Bennett about three weeks away from returning

Updated: October 10, 2003, 10:44 AM ET

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Vikings running back Michael Bennett, recovering from a foot injury that has sidelined him the entire season, is running again and aims to return to the lineup in about three weeks.

Bennett jogged on the grass for about 20 minutes during practice Thursday after running on artificial turf the day before. He had surgery in July to repair a broken left foot.

Coaches, trainers and Bennett himself all believe he'll be ready to play in the Vikings' game Nov. 2 against Green Bay. He's currently on the physically unable to perform list.

"He is moving around with some pep in his step," coach Mike Tice said. "He is moving right along. It is going to be interesting to see if he can stay on track."

Trainer Chuck Barta said Bennett will stick to straight-ahead running this week. He'll try cutting and moving side-to-side next week if he hasn't had any setbacks, slowly adding to the amount of stress being put on the bone.

Also Thursday, quarterback Daunte Culpepper went through a full practice, his first since breaking several small bones in his lower back in the second quarter of a game against Detroit on Sept. 21. He's expected to be ready to return as the starter next week, when the Vikings host Denver Oct. 19. Minnesota has a bye this weekend.

Linebacker Chris Claiborne (sore shoulder, sore Achilles' tendon) was limited in practice, and defensive tackle Billy Lyon (strained calf) was held out. Linebacker E.J. Henderson has a tear in his right rotator cuff, but he should be ready on Monday. Wide receiver D'Wayne Bates participated in part of practice, but he's not running at full speed yet.

STACK IT UP: The Vikings have been very happy with fullback Charles Stackhouse's presence in their running game. Signed in the second week of the season after the New York Giants let him go, Stackhouse has seen increasing playing time in two-back sets.

A second-year player from Mississippi, Stackhouse loves playing in the Vikings' power running game.

"That's the great thing about being a fullback in our offense," he said. "You get to go right at 'em. Our running backs find holes pretty well. They're all great running backs. They're fun to block for."

JUST CHILLIN': While some players prefer to get away from the game, Tice will be spending his whole weekend watching football. He told his wife, Diane, he's not leaving the house.

"I'll have the split screen working and have as many games as I can get going at the same time," Tice said. "Probably order a 3-foot sub and eat the whole thing on Sunday. I can't wait. There is going to be a lot of good games to watch this week. It is going to be exciting. I am really looking forward to a weekend of watching football and being like a regular guy."

EXTRA POINTS: WR Randy Moss, LB Greg Biekert and CB Kenny Irvin were excused from Thursday's practice so they could spend the entire week with their families. Players aren't required to be back at Winter Park until Monday morning. ... Tice believes the team has fallen behind in its conditioning, and he promised to add running to the mandatory weightlifting sessions on Mondays. He has also been disappointed with an increase in mental errors, believing some of that has stemmed from late-game fatigue. ... WR Nick Davis, who has been recovering from shoulder surgery since June, is eligible to return on Monday. Tice wants him to be a backup punt returner to rookie Keenan Howry and challenge for kick returner John Avery's job.

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