Culpepper quiet but motivated
Quarterback Daunte Culpepper declined an interview request again Wednesday, saying he'll talk to the media at next month's minicamp. But several of his teammates said Culpepper has appeared extra motivated in the weeks since the Lions drafted Matthew Stafford No. 1 overall.
He's a very fiery, competitive guy, receiver Ronald Curry said. I think he's going to be very successful in this offense. And getting that first overall draft pick kind of lights a little more of a fire up under him, so I think he's going to go out there and show the world that he can still play this game at a high level.
Curry, who got his own draft-day spark when the Lions took fellow slot receiver Derrick Williams in the third round, played with Culpepper two seasons ago in Oakland. He said Culpepper has looked as sharp as I've ever seen him lately.
When he was in Oakland he seemed like he still was kind of overcoming his injury, but now you wouldn't even know, Curry said. He has no ill effects from his knee, he's throwing the ball on time. It's a fairly new system for everybody, but he was in it when he was in Minnesota so he's kind of getting back to his good old days. I think he's going to do very well and he's got a lot of weapons around him so I think the guys are going to help him out a lot as well.
Culpepper, whose commanding presence with his teammates was on display at the Lions' charity bocce ball tournament Wednesday, will compete with Stafford for the No. 1 quarterback job in fall camp. I've written it plenty, but I expect him to hold the job at least through the early part of the season.
The Lions seem determined to not rush Stafford onto the field, though at some point they'll have to decide what gives them the best chance to compete for a playoff spot in 2010 (I'm assuming Kevin Smith is wrong and the Lions won't make the playoffs this season), playing Culpepper, who's on a one-year contract, or playing Stafford, who's clearly the quarterback of the future.
Stafford and the rest of the Lions' rookies are eligible to return for offseason workouts next week.