Raiola: Culpepper 'looks like a new man'
It's three days into the Lions' offseason workout program and Dominic Raiola already has noticed a dramatic change in quarterback Daunte Culpepper.
You can see it, Raiola said. You guys haven't seen him yet. You can see it. At least 20 pounds. But it's not like he lost muscle. It looks like he's been working.
Culpepper signed midway through last year's 0-16 season and started five games with limited practice time and inconsistent results. He weighed 280 pounds at one point last year and was noticeably out of shape.
He missed the final three games of the season with a shoulder injury.
It was a difficult place to put him in, coming in half the year, Raiola said. He didn't know he was going to play football. I think that's unfair. I think first year after all of us retire you're going to kind of live it up a little bit, live the good life. He was out of shape, he knew that. He was heavy. He never played that heavy before. So just, I don't even know how much weight he lost or what he weighs, what he weighed last year, but he just looks great.
Culpepper is expected to open next season as starter for the Lions, though general manager Martin Mayhew said Tuesday the team plans to add a veteran backup in free agency. The Lions also have been at the center of trade talks about Denver's Jay Cutler and could draft Georgia's Matt Stafford with the No. 1 overall pick.
I don't know how serious that stuff is or how serious it gets until I read it in the paper, Raiola said. What I know is that we have a great leader, a great quarterback in Daunte right now who has played for (offensive coordinator Scott) Linehan and who has been successful with him in the past. And he's excited about that so that makes me excited about it.
Culpepper had his most successful season as a pro in Minnesota when Linehan was offensive coordinator.