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News » Lions turn to Culpepper for QB relief

Lions turn to Culpepper for QB relief

Lions turn to Culpepper for QB relief
Once a star in Minnesota, Daunte Culpepper returns to the NFC North today as the starting quarterback for the winless Detroit Lions. Culpepper, who has started 10 games in the past two seasons for Miami and Oakland, respectively, rejected one opportunity to be a backup in Green Bay in the offseason and another one more recently in Kansas City, which is playing with a third-stringer in Tyler Thigpen.

NFL Week 10

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Raiders were dominated by the Falcons last Sunday and they should face more of the same today. Raiders coach Tom Cable expects QB JaMarcus Russell (knee tendinitis) to play, but who can blame him for feeling sorry for himself? Russell has been a 44 percent passer since Cable took over and against Atlanta he was incomplete on 13 of 19 attempts for a measly 31 yards. Only Seattle's inept passing game is doing worse. If Russell decides not to play, Andrew Walter will start and probably hand off to Justin Fargas and Michael Bush as much as possible. The Raiders are worried about LT Kwame Harris not being able to handle Julius Peppers. If Harris gets beaten, look for Mario Henderson to play. Carolina's offensive line is getting healthy again with the return of RT Jeff Otah and center Ryan Kalil. The Panthers believe rookie RB Jonathan Stewart (heel) will play despite missing practice much of the week. Look for Jake Delhomme to attack new Oakland cornerback Chris Johnson, who is starting for the departed DeAngelo Hall.

CZAR'S SCOOP: The Raiders were really worried that ex-cornerback Hall would have found a way to get injured next season in order to still collect on his $16.05 million deal and that's why they cut him loose and took their loss. Hall cleared waivers because no team wanted to pick up that wacky contract structure for next season. The Raiders also had to free up space to sign CB Nnamdi Asomugha, who is playing for the franchise-tag number of $9.765 million. If the Raiders franchise him again, they would owe him $11.72 million in 2009. Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery in 2002, had a pacemaker implanted in his chest Monday and is home resting. Three of the Panthers' best players — Peppers, LT Jordan Gross and CB Chris Gamble — could be unrestricted free agents next year. Gross had the franchise tag put on him this season while Peppers is looking for $30 million guaranteed in a new contract. Panthers DT Darwin Walker is still experiencing neck spasms after his Mercedes was totaled in an Oct. 25 accident three blocks from the stadium.

Other Games

Tennessee at Chicago: The Bears have a decent chance against the unbeaten Titans, especially if veteran LB Keith Bullock and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch don't play. Bullock is the better bet to test his ribcage injury. This game features the two best rookie running backs in Chris Johnson and Matt Forte, whose all-around style has produced 42 first downs this season. Both are very good at blitz pickups, a positive trait for a rookie. Chicago has only 16 team sacks, which is good news for Titans QB Kerry Collins, who is a very deliberate passer this season. QB Rex Grossman appears likely to make his first start for the Bears since Dec. 6. While offensive coordinator Ron Turner won't curtail the passing game too much, the Bears also can't afford the mistake-prone Grossman to show up against a defense tied for the league lead with 13 interceptions. There is a very good chance Kyle Orton (ankle) will be back next week.

Buffalo at New England: The Patriots have won nine straight against the Bills and figure to win again, considering Buffalo comes to town minus five injured starters. The Pats are looking for their 50th win in Gillette Stadium (opened in 2002). Although it was a loss, QB Matt Cassel wasn't sacked by the Colts and played well enough to win. Jabar Gaffney dropped a pass that would have won it. But Cassel was sacked 28 times in his first seven games and the big reason was he was holding the ball too long in the pocket. He is improving on his timing and getting a better feel for the pocket. The Bills, Jets and Pats are all tied at 5-3 atop the AFC East, and New England can separate from everyone in the next few weeks because they play everyone in the division. OLB Adalius Thomas has played over 95 percent of the snaps this season while rookie LB Jerod Mayo leads the team in tackles with 55. New England RB Lamont Jordan will be a game-time decision and is better than 50-50 to play.

Baltimore at Houston: This game was postponed on Sept. 14 because of Hurricane Ike. Matt Schaub, who injured his knee on a cheap tackle by Vikings DE Jared Allen last week, will be replaced by Sage Rosenfels, the goat of the four-point loss to the Colts on Oct. 5. Rosenfels was 4-1 as a starter last season when Schaub was injured. Craig Nall was signed to back up Rosenfels. Houston lost their leading tackler, OLB Zac Diles, with a fractured tibia in a noncontact drill Wednesday. He underwent surgery and is out for the season. Baltimore is prepared to start rookie Ray Rice and allow Willis McGahee, who will dress, to rest his injuries.

Jacksonville at Detroit: The NFL says the Jaguars are the first team to ever play two 0-8 teams in consecutive games. Jacksonville lost to the Bengals last Sunday and now the Lions have their chance to end their winless streak. The Lions will start newcomer Daunte Culpepper, their third quarterback of the season. The big news in Jacksonville this week was coach Jack Del Rio's strategy of switching the lockers of some of his players and his two-day suspension of captain and top linebacker Mike Peterson, who is in the last year of his contract. Peterson has been unhappy all season about his deal and it took until Friday for Del Rio and him to have a heart-to-heart to settle their differences.

Indianapolis at Pittsburgh: This is another huge AFC showdown between two of the perennial top teams in the conference. The Steelers will be minus RB Willie Parker once again while QB Ben Roethlisberger has been cleared to start. However, if Big Ben struggles early or something bad happens, be prepared to see Byron Leftwich, who played better than Roethlisberger last Monday night against the Redskins. Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin knows that his players have confidence in Leftwich. When he was with the Jaguars, Leftwich had a 2-3 record vs. the Colts, throwing seven TD passes against only one interception. Big Ben is on pace to be sacked 52 times.

Kansas City at San Diego: If the Chargers are going to repeat as AFC West champs, they better start today. The offense gets WR Chris Chambers back while Ron Rivera figures to put more pressure on Chiefs QB Tyler Thigpen. The Chiefs, who have been struggling on defense, will be minus three starters in DE Turk McBride, LB Derrick Johnson and CB Patrick Surtain. Rivera has pared back the defensive playbook. LaDainian Tomlinson has only four runs of 20 yards or more this season.

N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia: This should be a fun Sunday nighter and the Eagles need it if they want to remain in the NFC East playoff race. Both offenses rank in the league's top six, so the pressure is really on the defenses. Whatever team creates the most turnovers wins. The Eagles' Brian Westbrook has gained 1,194 yards on 185 touches and scored 11 TDs in 11 career games against the Giants. And don't forget Westbrook's 84-yard punt return with 1:16 left to break New York's heart in a 2003 game.

San Francisco at Arizona: The first-place Cardinals can improve to 6-3 with a win and coach Ken Whisenhunt said his team is excited for the opportunity for the entire country to see them play. "We're excited to show a lot of people the kind of football team we think we're developing here," he said. The atmosphere figures to be electric in a sold-out stadium. "It will be, to me, a lot like a playoff game," the Whiz said. Arizona will stick with Tim Hightower at running back while the 49ers figure to feature Frank Gore with interim head coach Mike Singletary wanting a ball-control offense. It will be interesting how Mike Martz handles new QB Shaun Hill and young receivers Jason Hill and Josh Morgan. Arizona WR Anquan Boldin caught his 450th career pass last Sunday in his 74th career game. Lionel Taylor did it in 81 games, Marvin Harrison needed 82 and Randy Moss 86 games. Cardinals QB Kurt Warner is looking for a contract of $7 million to $8 million for next season.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 9, 2008

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Chris McAlister Name: Chris McAlister
Position: CB
Age: 31
Experience: 10 years
College: Arizona
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