MANKATO -- Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter has just one problem with starting quarterback Daunte Culpepper.
"He snores," Carter said of his training camp roommate, after the Vikings finished their first practice of the opening day of two-a-days on Monday.
Culpepper, handed the reigns as the Vikings starting quarterback by coach Dennis Green in the offseason, is supremely confident in his ability, even though quarterbacks with just six NFL snaps of experience haven't usually fared well in their first season starting.
"I don't see why a first-year starter can't go out and set the world on fire," he said.
The 6-foot-4, 255 pounder who will be one of the biggest starters in the NFL, said the two months he spent in intense, punishing offseason workouts with Carter and Randy Moss at Carter's Boca Raton, Fla., home, gave him a good head start.
In addition to gaining his star receivers' trust and friendship, he also worked himself into great physical shape, he said.
Carter said the offseason work was noticeable in Culpepper's performance Monday, when Culpepper completed 9-of-13 passes in drills.
"He's going to be a tremendous player," Carter said. "He's always been a tremendous player. Players like him don't come around that often."
Still, Carter acknowledged that although the Vikings' expectations are no lower than usual, Culpepper's development could take time.
Culpepper wowed the small crowd that showed up at Minnesota State University, Mankato with a pass that went 60 yards in the air, split two defenders and just missed Moss' outstretched arms.
"He's got plenty of arm strength," Moss said. "He's just got to make sure he's accurate. I told him, 'let's get into the rhythm now.' That's one of those things that put a smile on my face to see him throw that ball."
Quarterbacks coach Alex Wood said Culpepper's first practice as the starter was beneficial to the 23-year-old.
"It was a good day for him, just to get rid of some of the jitters," Wood said. "He made some good reads and maneuvered in the pocket well."
Culpepper said he wasn't too happy with his first practice -- because of some of the missed passes and an interception -- but he's confident that improvement will come as players fall into the routine of two-a-days for the next 3 1/2 weeks.
"There were some mistakes, but that's part of training camp. It's good to get that first practice behind us," he said.
At Central Florida, Culpepper rewrote the record books, passing for 11,412 yards and gaining 1,020 yards rushing to become one of just two quarterbacks to pass for more than 10,000 yards and rush for over 1,000. His senior year, when he completed an NCAA-record 73.6 percent of his passes, Culpepper was sixth in Heisman Trophy balloting.
Green, who was heavily criticized after last year's draft, when he passed on Jevon Kearse, who became Defensive Rookie of the Year, to take Culpepper with the 11th overall pick, said time will prove the Vikings made the correct choice.
"I think he'll be a great player," Green said. "Remember, every player is drafted based on what he's accomplished. He threw in a system in college that was a passing system. He's a drop back passer."
Green has always maintained that it's Minnesota's offensive system that has allowed the Vikings to win with nine starters in the last 10 years.
Carter stopped short of praising Green's system and in fact said there may be differences this season under new offensive coordinator Sherm Lewis.
"(Culpepper) can make plays without scripting," Carter said. "That's what you want on an offense -- players that can make plays on their own."
As for his snoring problem that may keep Carter awake nights, Culpepper said it's the least of his concerns.
"I don't know," Culpepper said, laughing. "I was sleeping."
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