Vikings don't figure to miss a beat with backup QB

By ANDRES YBARRA, Associated Press Writer
September 24, 2003

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- Even if Gus Frerotte starts Sunday against San Francisco instead of Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota coach Mike Tice plans no changes in his offensive strategy.

Well, maybe one.

``We won't run any quarterback draws, I'll tell you that much,'' Tice said Wednesday.

Frerotte isn't a threat to run the ball the way the burly Culpepper is, but the Vikings still plan to run the offense at full speed. A calm, experienced veteran, Frerotte and his coaches believe he still has some starting years left in him.

Frerotte, who threw for 184 yards and a touchdown last weekend against Detroit when Culpepper left the game with an injured back, will work with the first team this week in practice. Culpepper is getting treatment to help speed the healing process for three cracked bones in his back.

``I'm going to will myself to get healthy,'' said Culpepper, who was hurt on his second touchdown run against the Lions.

Tice plans to let Culpepper, who's still listed as doubtful on the injury report, practice Friday. He'll then make his decision on whether to hold him out against the 49ers based on how Culpepper feels and what the medical staff tells him.

``It's not an injury that puts you in the hospital or anything like that,'' Tice said. ``It's a pain thing. If he can handle the pain, then he's tough. Probably tougher than I am.''

In the meantime, Frerotte is preparing to possibly make his first start since September of last year, when he played for Cincinnati. Frerotte eventually fell to third string with the Bengals.

``I expected a lot more from that year, but it turned out to be the same Cincinnati that I hoped it wasn't going to be,'' Frerotte said.

Frerotte held his own Sunday against the Lions. He completed two 72-yard passes -- one to Randy Moss and another to Kelly Campbell for a touchdown. Moss probably would have scored on his catch, but Frerotte underthrew him.

``I'll just do what I can out there and hopefully it's good enough for him,'' Frerotte said.

Still, the 10-year player is comfortable with the game plan drawn up by Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, having played in similar systems in the past.

``I have a lot of confidence in his play calling, and he has confidence in me,'' Frerotte said. ``We work well together.''link