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- Culpepper Looking to Move On

Matthew Connolly April 7, 2006
Matthew Connolly

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Daunte Culpepper is trying to start anew in Miami. His relationship with the Minnesota Vikings organization took a turn for the worse after the Love Boat episode, and further incidents led to a trade for the Pro Bowl quarterback. With the dismissal of all Love Boat charges against Culpepper, the situation has come full circle.

In a statement released through the Dolphins PR Department, Culpepper said, "I was confident when the legal process began that the truth would come out, and I am glad that my innocence has been proven." He went on to say, I am delighted to begin my role as a Miami Dolphin with this issue now behind us.

Dolphin fans should be delighted as well, as the team showed flashes of brilliance in its Nick Saban-led resurgence during the 2005 season. The biggest missing piece, consistent quarterback play, has been solved with the addition of Culpepper.

Before his injury-laden 2005 season, Culpepper was one of the most efficient and explosive quarterbacks in the NFL. He has 20162 passing yards, 2476 rushing yards, 164 total touchdowns, a 64.4% completion rate, and a passer rating of 91.5 over his seven-year NFL career. His best season, the 2004 campaign, came while star receiver Randy Moss was injured and seldom used. All of this adds up to Miami's best quarterback since Dan Marino retired.

A key to Culpepper's success will be his supporting cast. Pro Bowl wide receiver Chris Chambers will likely be his number one target. Randy McMichael is a true pass-catching tight end, something the Vikings never had. The backfield will be set with second-year running back Ronnie Brown, and will be even stronger if Ricky Williams wins his drug test appeal. An offensive line that surpassed expectations in 2005 will be strengthened with the addition of tackle L.J. Shelton. Compare this to Culpepper's stats with Minnesota's inferior offense and it seems that he is in for a stellar season.

The only question remaining is Culpepper's knee. He tore three knee ligaments on October 30 against Carolina last season and underwent surgery on November 15. Doctors say he is rehabbing ahead of schedule and may be back for the season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Even if he is not back right away, Miami and its fans can rest easy knowing that they have finally found a franchise quarterback.

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