MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Using his fast feet to maneuver around the
field, Daunte Culpepper had no trouble finding the right receiver
during a sharp opening possession. That's how Minnesota is going to
have to move the ball without Randy Moss.
Culpepper opened the preseason by guiding an efficient 65-yard
touchdown drive, leading the Vikings to a 27-16 victory over the
Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night.
Completing his first five passes, each to a different receiver,
Culpepper found new No. 1 target Nate Burleson for a 33-yard score
to cap a drive that lasted only 3 minutes, 8 seconds. Culpepper
finished 5-for-6 for 84 yards.
"Going back to my college days, I've always liked to do that,"
said Culpepper, who lost the mercurial Moss in an offseason trade
to Oakland. "I always throw the ball to different guys. It makes
everybody more effective. It makes defenses cover everybody."
Kansas City's Priest Holmes, whose damaged right knee cost him
eight games last season, played only seven snaps. He looked sharp,
rushing four times for 42 yards. Backup Larry Johnson, who will
share more of the load this year, carried eight times for 37 yards.
"I followed my reads pretty good, and we have a pretty good
offensive line," Holmes said, estimating his health at 75 to 80
percent. "I wouldn't give us too high a grade, but I feel like we
had some rhythm."
Marc Boerigter, returning from a knee injury that kept him out
all of last season, caught two passes for 28 yards. Fourth-string
quarterback James Kilian leaped into the end zone to finish a
3-yard run with 29 seconds left, giving the Chiefs their first
Kansas City, like Minnesota, made a significant attempt to
upgrade a lagging defense during the offseason. Though two of the
newcomers -- linebacker Kendrell Bell and defensive end Carlos Hall
-- missed this game because of injuries, the first-stringers played
into the second quarter and gave up two TDs.
Part of the problem was the way Culpepper moved around.
"There were less mistakes and a lot of progress going on with
the whole defense," said rookie linebacker Derrick Johnson. "I
didn't know Culpepper was as big as he is. I was able to chase him
out of the pocket, but he made a lot of good throws and got around
people. That's going to happen."
The Vikings, missing new cornerback Fred Smoot to a sore right
knee, experienced mixed results from their revamped defense -- with
the starters playing most of the first half. Holmes and Johnson
each ripped off a few clean runs and several receivers were left
wide open, but they did come through when it counted.
Coach Mike Tice thought his front seven wore down and struggled
to get off their blocks.
"It was average," said new nose tackle Pat Williams. "We can
get a whole lot better. Once we get four games under our belt,
we'll be right where we want to be."
Tynes, coming off an up-and-down rookie season, missed a
38-yarder but made his three other kicks -- including a 51-yarder in
the third quarter that cut the lead to 20-9.
"He missed a field goal, then he had a bad kickoff," coach
Dick Vermeil said. "Kicking the ball out of bounds and starting at
the 40-yard line -- that's junior-high football."
Another special-teamer under the spotlight in Kansas City is
rookie punter Dustin Colquitt, whose first two kicks went for 31
and 34 yards. The Chiefs went through three punters last season,
stumbling to a league-worst 34.0-yard net average.
Special teams are getting significant attention in Minnesota
this summer, too. Aaron Elling and Paul Edinger, fighting for the
kicker job, each made their only field-goal attempt. After Mewelde
Moore returned a kickoff 43 yards in the first quarter, Tice
exuberantly offered his congratulations on the sideline.
Brad Johnson -- appearing with the Vikings for the first time
since 1998 -- relieved Culpepper and threw a 7-yard scoring pass to
Moore that made it 14-3 Minnesota. The second-year backup to
Michael Bennett, Moore also rushed for 62 yards on five carries.
Most importantly, both teams emerged without any new injuries.
"There were some encouraging things, and we'll just be able to
build on that," Tice said.