Culpepper back for Vikings-Broncos clash

Updated: October 15, 2003, 2:34 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

One injured starting quarterback, Daunte Culpepper of the Minnesota Vikings, will return for Sunday's marquee game at the Metrodome. But the other starter, Denver Broncos star Jake Plummer, has already been ruled out well beyond.

The Broncos said Wednesday that Plummer will miss three to five weeks with a fractured bone in his left foot.

Signed as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, Plummer sat out last week's game against the Steelers with a sprained right shoulder, an injury originally suffered in a Sept. 14 victory over San Diego. But it is the foot injury, one which was downplayed by Denver management, that is causing the biggest problem now.

Steve Beuerlein, a 17th-year veteran who led the Broncos to a win over the Steelers last Sunday, will get his second straight start. Beuerlein, 38, completed 17 of 28 passes for 172 yards, with two touchdown passes and two interceptions last week.

In five starts this season, Plummer completed 80 of 131 passes for 903 yards, with eight touchdown passes, three interceptions and a 92.5 passer rating. The former Arizona Cardinals starter has also run 18 times for 119 yards. He hasn't thrown an interception since the season opener.

Plummer fell on his right shoulder in Week 2, has been receiving regular treatment for the injury, and even manage to start and finish three games while battling the pain. He received a painkiller injection last Sunday, was listed as the No. 2 quarterback, and would have played if Beuerlein had been injured.

The expectation was that Plummer would return to the lineup Sunday, when the 5-1 Broncos face the unbeaten Vikings. Minnesota is coming off a bye week and will welcome the return of Culpepper, who missed two games because of a back injury.

But the Broncos, typically coy about injuries, announced Wednesday that Plummer is bothered by the foot injury. The team did not announce a timetable for his return, nor were there any immediate specifics about the severity of the injury.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.