It’s been a hard road back for now Raiders QB Daunte Culpepper, but if indications continue to be as they were on Saturday night, Culpepper might just find himself opening day under center for Oakland. The former Vikings and Dolphins QB was the best of the three Raiders QB’s on the field against the 49’ers Saturday, and threw two TD passes as Oakland fell to the 49’ers 26-21. Culpepper seems to be getting better each passing day with the Raiders, and his efforts appear to have him closer to becoming the teams starting QB.
“Daunte has done a great job and really is performing well,” Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said Sunday. “It’s great to see him out there on the field and the way he is on a game-day environment. He couldn’t be more serious about winning this job.” Culpepper does have the fortunes of coming into a Raiders team that cannot come to terms with number one pick QB JaMarcus Russell, who everyone thought would be the opening day starter vs the Lions. He also is going up against two QB’s that by most standards would not be starters elsewhere in the league – Andrew Walter and Josh McCown. Both Walter and McCown have gotten starts, and both have not exactly made Kiffin a believer in either one.
Culpepper, who has missed most of the last two seasons with injuries, knows that just getting back on the field and being a starter again would be a victory in itself. “I feel that I have to continue to get better every day,” the Raider QB said. “That’s really my focus right now to get a little bit better every day. Every time I step on the field I want to get a little bit better. If I can do that I can be the player that I was brought here to be and the player I want to be.”
Culpepper, who deserves to start the next preseason game for the Raiders vs the Rams Friday night, has gone 11-for-20 for 153 yards and two TD’s so far this preseason. He has also shown some ability to scramble, which was what made him dangerous in the past with the Vikings. If he can keep the knee healthy, and not force the ball and make mistakes, the Raiders may have found their man to take the QB spot while they wait for Russell to come to terms. For Culpepper, it’s a spot that he won’t give up easy if given the chance.