|Culpepper set to return to Miami when Raiders visit|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 27 September 2007 11:50|
He'll surely hear them again Sunday.
Culpepper makes what's sure to be a contentious return to South Florida this weekend, and is the likely starter at quarterback for the Oakland Raiders (1-2) in their matchup against the winless Dolphins (0-3).
He played in only four games with Miami before being shut down by injuries last season, his only one with the team. But his mere presence adds considerable intrigue to a game between teams off to struggle-filled starts.
``I know he would love to get a shot to play in this game,'' Oakland coach Lane Kiffin said. ``Not because it's Miami, but just because he'd love to get a shot to start and he has great confidence that he would play extremely well.''
Culpepper was released by the Dolphins this past offseason after Miami acquired Trent Green from Kansas City and landed another quarterback, John Beck, in the second round of the draft.
The breakup was bitter, as breakups tend to be.
Oakland wound up signing Culpepper for depth, as talks between the Raiders and No. 1 pick JaMarcus Russell were stalled for weeks. Culpepper has already come through once for Oakland, taking over in the second half last week when Josh McCown got hurt and helping the Raiders beat Cleveland.
Now he gets a chance at the ultimate comeuppance: winning in Miami.
``I think it's just important to try and start fast,'' said Culpepper, who heard his first boos from Dolphins fans early in their home-opening loss to Buffalo last season. ``Whenever you get a chance to go out and play you want to be productive, be efficient and always put your team in position to be successful. That's my goal.''
Culpepper has tried to downplay the Daunte vs. Dolphins story line, yet deep down, this game certainly has at least a twinge of extra significance for him.
It might also carry something extra for Green, who was asked this week if he's better than Culpepper.
``To answer that question in a confrontational, debate kind of way that will just stir the pot would be silly on my standpoint,'' Green said. ``To play the position, you have to have confidence in what you are doing, so that is probably the most politically correct way I can answer that without making headlines in some manner.''
Green didn't have to be brash. He's got enough teammates taking care of that.
Linebacker Joey Porter has guaranteed the Dolphins will win this game, and fellow linebacker Channing Crowder said the Culpepper he's seeing on film still hasn't fully recovered from the devastating right knee injury he suffered with the Minnesota Vikings in October 2005.
``He's still limping around. He's not 100 percent. He's not the Daunte Culpepper who was back in Minnesota,'' Crowder said. ``But he's making plays and winning some games, so we'll see what he can do.''
If the first three games are an indicator, Culpepper could do well.
Miami's defense, the perennial cornerstone of the franchise, has allowed 68 points over the past two games, and already has some players questioning the Dolphins' schemes and personnel decisions.
Kiffin, the Raiders' first-year coach, can appreciate Miami's sense of urgency.
``I had lost two in a row here and it felt like it had been a long time,'' Kiffin said. ``Well, there are people in this building who hadn't won in 322 days. So it was important for everyone in the building. We have to build off it.''
Even without a win, the Dolphins have something to build off, as well.
Miami's offense had a breakout game of sorts from running back last week from Ronnie Brown, who had 29 touches (23 carries) for 211 total yards and three touchdowns. It still wasn't enough, as the Dolphins lost 31-28 to the New York Jets.
``We know there's things we can do better,'' Brown said. ``And I think we'll get there.''
All hope isn't gone, but even Dolphins coach Cam Cameron acknowledges a turnaround better come quickly. ``We are what we are right now,'' Cameron said. ``And if you would please, finish the whole quote. We are what we are and that means a team that has to improve individually, each person, first and foremost, coach, player, strength staff, everyone.''