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Culpepper may play in exhibition opener

DAVIE, Fla. (Aug. 7, 2006) -- Quarterback Daunte Culpepper has progressed so well in his recovery from knee surgery that he could play in the Miami Dolphins ' exhibition opener against Jacksonville Aug. 12.

A decision on whether to play Culpepper will be made later this week, coach Nick Saban said.

"He's doing really well," Saban said. "He's farther ahead in his rehabilitation than anticipated. We're very pleased with the progress he has made."

Culpepper tore three ligaments in his right knee last October and was acquired by the Dolphins in March from the Minnesota Vikings. There were projections that his recovery could take a year or more, but he has participated in every practice since training camp began July 29.

If Culpepper sees action against Jacksonville, his playing time will be brief. With the regular-season opener still a month away, the bulk of the snaps will likely go to third-string quarterback Cleo Lemon. New backup Joey Harrington is also expected to play.

Player safety will be the priority in deciding how much to play which quarterbacks, Saban said.

"The goal is to get them ready for the first game," he said.

Culpepper still must be cleared for contact by the medical staff, and he has yet to absorb his first hit since the injury.

"You've got to have it sooner or later," Saban said.

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