Monday, November 3, 2008
Updated: November 4, 9:52 AM ET
Culpepper to sign 2-year contract with Lions pending physical
ESPN.com news services
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions are turning to a former Pro Bowl quarterback for help in trying to win their first game of the season.
Daunte Culpepper has agreed to a two-year deal with the Lions (0-8) and said Monday he would sign it after taking a physical.
"As a result of doing some research on different places to play, the Detroit Lions seemed to be the best fit for me," Culpepper told The Associated Press in an e-mail. "I am encouraged by the commitment of ownership, the vision of management and the great potential of the talent that is on the team.
"I hope to contribute to the team in whatever role coach [Rod] Marinelli needs for me to play," he wrote.
The 31-year-old Culpepper was not expected to arrive in Detroit until late Monday due to prior commitments and the contract might not be official until Tuesday morning. A locker has been assigned to him and he supposedly will wear No. 11 -- Roy Williams' old number.
Clearly, Marinelli is excited.
"I've competed against him for a number of years, and he is a tremendous player with a great deal of skill," Marinelli said. "When you get a chance to add that kind of player, I don't see how you close your eyes."
Culpepper was a first-round draft choice of Minnesota in 1999 and made three Pro Bowls as a member of the Vikings, where he teamed with Randy Moss to form one of the league's most dynamic quarterback-receiver combinations.
Over nine NFL seasons, Culpepper has completed 64 percent of his passes, thrown 142 touchdowns and run for 33 scores. He had career highs in yards (4,717), touchdowns (39) and passer rating (110.9) in 2004 with the Vikings.
A knee injury the following year ended his career in Minnesota. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Culpepper started 10 games over the 2006-07 seasons with the Raiders and Dolphins, throwing seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Culpepper had announced plans to retire in September, but worked out for the Chiefs and Lions last week.
"He's a veteran player that has had some great performances and still has excellent arm strength," Marinelli said. "We'll get him to work and see how fast he picks things up and what he can do."
Dan Orlovsky has started Detroit's last four games, but Marinelli wouldn't give any hints as to whether he expected that streak to continue Sunday against Jacksonville.
"I don't see any reason to help our opponents by giving them one quarterback to plan for," he said. "Everyone will find out on Sunday."
Orlovsky sprained his thumb on the first play of Sunday's 27-23 loss at Chicago, but didn't expect it to be a problem.
"It hurt, but it didn't affect my throwing," he said. "The doctor told me it is sprained. That's all I know."
Orlovsky took over as the starter after Jon Kitna was placed on injured reserve with a back injury and has been happy with his progress, even if he hasn't gotten a win.
"I have complete confidence in myself," Orlovsky said. "I think I can be a consistent, really top-notch starter in this league."
As of Monday afternoon, he said he hadn't been told anything about how his status will change with Culpepper's arrival.
"I was watching the Texas-Texas Tech game and saw it on the bottom of the screen," he said. "Nothing has been conveyed to me at all. The coach has a responsibility to the team; it is bigger than me. I'm a football player for the Detroit Lions, and that hasn't changed."
Orlovsky threw for 292 yards in the loss to the Bears, a total that Culpepper has only reached twice in the last three seasons.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.