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Daunte Culpepper Conf. Call 11/20/2002

Culpepper on the Vikings' running game: With the running game coming along like it is, that definitely makes my job a lot easier.



Q: You're getting a lot of enhancement from your running back in [Michael] Bennett, and I suppose that's a big advantage for you a that running game gets rolling?

DC: Oh yeah. We're definitely loving that. We've been able to run the ball efficiently and hopefully we can continue to do that, because it helps us out in the passing game as well.

Q: He has a 5.7 yards per carry average and that's pretty impressive. You're going against a team that has had serious problems defending against the run. Tell us a little bit about what it means as a quarterback to have that's able to garner that kind of yardage.

DC: It gives us the threat of having him being able to be explosive. That definitely helps. Defenses definitely have to account for that. It also opens up different options in the passing game because we have someone so explosive back in the backfield like Michael Bennett.

Q: By the looks of things and by our memory of how things used to be there, you were a team that had the ability to score at any moment. What has transpired in the last year and a half to two years? What has changed some of that?

DC: I think we're getting back to that a little bit more now. What happened was that we weren't able to run the ball like we could, but now we're getting back to running the ball like we can. I think that just opens it up for us offensively. Being able to run the ball, that's the key, and that just shows the hard work and dedication that the offensive linemen have put forth to be successful in that aspect.

Q: What about the road? Your road record has not been good. The team hasn't won on the road since Thanksgiving of 2000. Winning on the road is a different animal in some respects, some teams respond to it and some don't. Is there any reason why you've had that kind of a record?

DC: I don't have the answers and I don't think anybody really does. We just have to look at it like we've got a great opportunity this week to end that streak. That's not a very good streak that anybody wants to have. We just feel that we've got to do a better job on the road and we've got an opportunity this week to do that.

Q: You're going to go through some hard times in your career. There's not a quarterback in this league that hasn't had the down time. Getting through that down time is probably what makes you a better quarterback later in your career. Have you talked to anybody about that? Are you working through it to get back on track to where you were? Certainly the running game helps you get there quicker, doesn't it?

DC: Absolutely. Our main focus is to go out and try to put us in the best position to win games. With the running game coming along like it is, that definitely makes my job a lot easier.

Q: The focus on a quarterback, obviously you look at Brett Favre, he's had his downs, but obviously he's had more ups than downs. You're in a situation where maybe you can do some damage towards the end of the season. It seems like your team is starting to progress the way you feel you should.

DC: I just want to go out and give my team the best opportunity to make plays and be myself out there and play how I see it and how I feel out there and don't try to do too much and let the game come to me and make plays when the opportunity presents itself.

Q: Do you think you were trying to do too much? You have a reputation of running the ball, you're a burly guy, and you're strong-armed.

DC: I think that's kind of what it was, and I just had to settle down and look at myself and say, 'hey, I can make plays at any time, but I don't have to make them all the time,' I've got guys around me that can make them too.

Q: Working with Randy Moss can be feast or famine and sometimes, can that be a balancing act to make sure that everybody gets involved?

DC: Well, that's not how I look at it, I don't think that's how coach [Scott] Linehan, the offensive coordinator looks at it, we just want to be able to take what the defenses give us. If they want to cover Randy up with two or three guys, we've got to be able to attack them in different ways, but when he's open we're going to get him the ball.

Q: Can you sense that the teams confidence is building now that you've settled down and gotten more relaxed this year?

DC: I think so. One thing you've got to look at is that we've got a very young team, and the main thing is that we've stuck together through thick and thin, and we have to continue to do that. If we continue to do that, we're going to be just fine.

Q: With Cris Carter gone is it important to develop a second wide receiver to take some of the pressure off Randy, and do you think you're making progress towards that at all?

DC: Yeah. Unfortunately Derrick Alexander got hurt, and D'Wayne Bates has been doing a really good job, we've got young guys stepping in, Kelly Campbell's doing a really good job. It does help when you've got guys on the other side that can be really explosive, and to get some attention and take that attention off of Randy, because he's going to demand two or three guys on him at all times. For the most part, we think that D'Wayne Bates and Kelly Campbell are going to do a really good job for us.

Q: Do you think people outside of Minnesota don't understand Randy Moss, do you think he gets a raw deal from the national media?

DC: I don't know, Randy's Randy, he handles himself in mostly a good way. Sometimes it might get magnified, but that's the business we're in.

Q: Is it amazing to you the amount of things that your team has gone through in the last three years, whether it was Cory Stringer, you're offensive lineman, it's really been difficult since you guys hit a peak maybe in '99 or 2000.

DC: It's been kind of tough. Tough times change, but tough people don't, so I really feel we're a tough team as a whole, so we're going to be fine in the long run. We just have to keep plugging away, and keep going after it.

Q: You're talking about settling down and letting other people do stuff. Did it take the episode of you being bench for you to realize that?

DC: No, I don't think it did, but coach Tice made the decision and he went with it, so I've got to live with that. But the main thing is I've got to go out there and make plays, when the opportunities present itself, or when it's not there, just let the game come to me

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