Sid Hartman, Star Trib - Good Read
Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper said that in the team's recent minicamps, he could see major improvement in the team's defense.
The addition of Fred Smoot and Darren Sharper in the secondary and the rush provided by new defensive lineman Pat Williams, all signed as free agents, has made a big difference.
"They're very quick, they're very fast and they are guys who really want to make big plays," Culpepper said.
Culpepper already had a lot of respect for Antoine Winfield, the highly rated cornerback who joined the team a year ago. And now with Smoot on the other side, Culpepper can see a difference.
"They're two lock-down corners. Not many teams have two lock-down corners like that," Culpepper said. "I have had trouble throwing against them. I've got to be on point. It makes me step my game up, having guys like that out there covering our receivers. I've got to put the ball right where it's supposed to be, and I can't have many errors.
"It's going to make me better because I've got to be that much better to complete balls against those two guys."
Culpepper led the NFL with 4,717 passing yards and a .692 completion percentage last season and had an NFC-high 110.9 passer rating. But his favorite target, Randy Moss, was traded to Oakland. In five seasons, they combined for 53 touchdown passes.
"I'm not going to say it's different because Randy's not here," Culpepper said. "If Randy was here, he's obviously a great player, but he's not here, so we've got to deal with that and be the best team we can be.
"But that's a great opportunity for other guys to step up and make a lot of plays. And I got to tell you that right now -- we're going to be a great team."