Culpepper's first workout with Dolphins draws praise
DAVIE, Fla. -- Daunte Culpepper did what everyone wanted to see.
The new Dolphins quarterback, in his first public workout since joining the Miami Dolphins, dropped back during a morning minicamp session Friday and saw no one open.
So he took off running -- looking every bit like his former self.
Culpepper, who had surgery in November to repair three torn ligaments in his right knee, sprinted down the field during a non-contact drill against players not wearing pads. He also ran back to the huddle and showed no signs of being limited at all despite wearing a knee brace.
Culpepper did not speak with reporters Friday, but his teammates are impressed with his progress.
"Pleasantly surprised and inspired," said defensive lineman Kevin Carter. "I'm glad he's feeling a lot better, especially with the severity of the injury that he had. I mean, it's only June and he's running around pretty good. So it's a pretty good indication that he'll be ready to go full-speed come season time."
Culpepper, who was acquired in a trade from the Minnesota Vikings, has been taking part in all practices during the team's offseason program, which began in May.
Dolphins coach Nick Saban said Culpepper is ahead of schedule but won't say with any measure of certainty if the quarterback will be ready for the season opener Sept. 7 at Pittsburgh.
But Saban also hasn't ruled out Culpepper playing in the exhibition opener at home against Jacksonville on Aug. 12, either.
"He's doing very well physically," Saban said. "But I'm not surprised because I see him every day. Does he still have work to do? Absolutely. Are we ready to make any predictions about his future? Not really, because that's all day-to-day and week-to-week and hopefully he'll continue to make the kind of progress that he's made."
Culpepper appeared to be throwing the ball well, connecting on two passes downfield to receivers Marty Booker and Wes Welker. Dropping back and planting on his surgically rebuilt knee did not seem to be problematic.
Receiver Chris Chambers was happy to see Culpepper move so well.
"I'd rather him go out here and react the way he has to react and not think about if he's going to get hurt if he runs down the field," Chambers said. "I've seen him do it numerous times already in camp so it's nothing I think about. Myself and all the other guys are salivating on the opportunity to get some of those broken-down plays and get a lot of big plays that way with a guy who's mobile."
The Dolphins' other new quarterback, Joey Harrington, also participated in the minicamp, giving fans -- who are allowed to watch at this time of year -- their first look at the former Detroit Lions starter.
Saban said Harrington has "been a real asset" and defended the decision to trade a sixth-round pick in 2007 to Detroit even though the Lions were planning to release Harrington for salary-cap purposes.
"We thought the practice time was important, but we also thought that there was no guarantee that if they cut the guy that we'd get him," Saban said. "So we secure the future and we also get the guy here to practice. I think it certainly enhances the developmental process, especially in our situation where there is some question as to who will be the quarterback, whether it's because of physical injuries and things like that."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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