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Minnesota Vikings

Youth movement falls on second-year QB Culpepper

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  Randy Moss All-Pro receiver Randy Moss will again be the Vikings' playmaker. Brian Bahr/ Allsport

The Minnesota Vikings open their training camp at Mankato State University in Mankato, Minn., on July 23. Here are a few questions from Sports Illustrated's Dr. Z, followed by's perspective on some of the issues facing the Vikings this season. SI's season preview will post Aug. 23.

Dr. Z wants to know:

1.) Is there some kind of sabotage at work here, with Red McCombs scuttling the team to set up a move out of Minnesota? (I'll grant you, this is a way out, kind of loony rumor, but I keep hearing it.)

2.) Can anyone find a coherent reason why Dennis Green is choosing to go with totally unproven quarterback Daunte Culpepper?

Fast Facts
1999 record: 11-7 (second in NFC Central, lost to St. Louis in divisional playoffs)

Coach: Dennis Green (82-48 in eight seasons with Vikings)

Stadium: Metrodome (64,121, artificial turf)

1999 rankings: Offense -- 14th run, 5th pass, 3rd overall. Defense -- 14th run, 30th pass, 27th overall.

Depth chart

1999 results

1999 player stats

2000 schedule Projection: 8-8 


3.) The wideouts were grumbling and calling for Jeff George when Randall Cunningham struggled in 1999. Who will they be calling for this time, if Culpepper has trouble? Bubby Brister?

4.) The Vikings lost four starters via free agency, including the heart of their O-line, G Randall McDaniel and C Jeff Christy. They signed five free agents, none of them a starter. What does this tell you about their plans for 2000?

The Vikings can make the playoffs if ... Daunte Culpepper is ready to be a front-line quarterback. He's not, so the Vikings must wait until he matures. The Vikings took a severe hit in free agency, losing center Jeff Christy, defensive end Duane Clemons cornerback Jimmy Hitchcock among others. Also gone are guard Randall McDaniel and tight end Andrew Glover, blockers who helped pave the way for Robert Smith. If the Vikings falter, head coach Dennis Green has a built-in excuse: An inexperienced QB surrounded by a less-than-stellar supporting cast.

Pivotal games: Coming off its bye week (Sept. 24), Minnesota plays five NFC Central teams in six weeks, four on the road. And it won't get any easier. The final three weeks of the season hold a road trip to St. Louis, a home date against Green Bay and a journey to Indianapolis. ...Maybe this wasn't the year to go with a first-year QB....

NFC Central Previews
Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 


On the hot seat: Dennis Green always manages to hold the wolves at bay. This year, though, they may run him off the Vikings sideline. Green brought in Sherm Lewis to direct the offense and Emmitt Thomas to lead the defense. Both were with Green Bay last season (a year in which the Packers failed to make the playoffs). ...Denny's "us" vs. "them" mentality may be wearing thin -- especially with a group of youngsters.

Up-and-comers: Receiver Matthew Hatchette's progress allowed the Vikings to part ways with Jake Reed. Entering his fourth season, Hatchette will be the third receiver behind Randy Moss and Cris Carter. Once Carter steps aside, Hatchette will step up. Last season, Hatchette had nine catches for 180 yards, including a team-long 80-yard TD reception.

Player Movement
Unrestricted Free Agents  Restricted Free Agents  Released 
 Pete Bercich, LB   Matthew Hatchette, WR, re-signed   Randall Cunningham, QB 
 Mitch Berger, P, re-signed   Robert Tate, CB, re-signed   Andrew Glover, TE, signed Min. 
 Jeff Christy, C, signed T.B.   Troy Davis, RB   Randall McDaniel, G, signed T.B. 
 Duane Clemons, DE, signed K.C.   Mike Halapin, DT, re-signed   Jake Reed, WR, signed N.O. 
 Carlester Crumpler, TE, re-signed   Chris Hewitt, S    
 Chris Doleman, DE   Rob Kelley, S, re-signed    
 Jeff George, QB, signed Was.   Dino Philyaw, RB    
 Jimmy Hitchcock, CB, signed Car.   Jared Tomich, DE, re-signed    
 Leroy Hoard, RB       
 Corbin Lacina, G, re-signed       
 John Henry Mills, LB       
 Mike Morris, C       
 Harold Morrow, RB, re-signed       
 Joe Phillips, DT       
 Moe Williams, RB, re-signed       
2000 Draft Picks
Round  Overall  Player  Pos  School 
25   Chris Hovan  DT   Boston College 
55   Fred Robbins  DT   Wake Forest 
56   Mike Boireau  DE   Miami (FL) 
88   Doug Chapman  HB   Marshall 
106   Antonio Wilson  OLB   TX A&M Commerce 
118   Tyrone Carter   Minnesota 
165   Troy Walters  WR   Stanford 
240   Mike Malano   San Diego St. 
244   Giles Cole  TE   TX A&M Commerce 
248   Lewis Kelly  OG   South Carolina St. 

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