Pepp, Childress Meet...Sort Of

The scheduled meeting between Daunte Culpepper and Brad Childress took place Friday, but not as most had envisioned.

When word got out that Daunte Culpepper was coming to the Twin Cities from his home in Orlando, it was seen as a solid first step between getting the franchise player and new coach Brad Childress together for their first face-to-face meeting since Childress was hired.

The meeting happened, but to the surprise of many, it was done in a phone conversation that lasted about 45 minutes instead of a face-to-face meeting. Culpepper, who has been evasive about returning calls from the media and the team since his knee surgery, didn't meet up personally with Childress, but the conversation was described by those with knowledge of it as productive.

There have been rumors that Culpepper may want out of his contract in Minnesota, but the Wilf family has strongly defended the fact that Culpepper will get his $6 million roster bonus in March and will remain with the Vikings.

Childress said Friday he is hopeful Culpepper will be ready for the regular-season opener, but with the switch to the West Coast Offense, he will need a lot of practice time to get things right. Hopefully, this will be the start of building a relationship between Childress and Culpepper, because both will need to be on the same page if the Vikings are to be successful in 2006 and beyond.

SATURDAY NOTES
* Rumors continue to persist in Oakland that the Raiders are going to try to package a trade to get Culpepper, but there has been no word on the Vikings' end that such a trade proposal will be made or even seriously considered if it is made.
* The Vikings added two more assistants Friday. Matt Sheldon, a former assistant coach with the Rams, was hired as a defensive assistant and Kevin Stafanski, an intern with the Eagles in 2005, was hired as an assistant to Childress.
* Quote of the week from Childress' agent on the aggressive stance of the Wilf family in getting a deal done with the new coach: "I would not want to compete with them. If they get you to Minnesota, you are not leaving."
* Former coach Mike Tice will have dinner with Jets officials Sunday and have a full-scale interview on Monday. There remains a lot of talk that the Jets' first choice is Pats defensive coordinator Eric Mangini, but the best thing for Tice could be if the Patriots upset the Broncos and Mangini remains unavailable. If that happens, VU has been told Tice could jump up to Plan A and be hired as early as Tuesday.
* Darren Sharper is no stranger to defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin. When Sharper was a freshman at William and Mary, Tomlin was a junior.

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