EDEN PRAIRIE -- (AP) -- The Minnesota Vikings' preseason questions, once so pervasive, are all but buried beneath a growing mound of evidence.
Was Daunte Culpepper ready to start at quarterback in his second season? Could the offensive line lose two starters and still be effective? Would the Vikings become more effective by switching places among the three linebackers? Could they cover the NFL's top receivers with a converted wide receiver and a player plucked off the waiver wire?
After four victories, no losses, the answer to each is an unequivocal yes.
"The main thing is, those question marks are from people who don't matter to the people in the program, people who don't have to put it on the line," offensive tackle Korey Stringer said. "We're not doing anything we didn't expect to do. In fact, we expected more."
There's more to be done next Monday night, when the Vikings can put 2 1/2 games between them and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a victory over the NFC Central favorite.
"We still did not play well against the run," Vikings coach Dennis Green said Monday following the Vikings' 31-24 victory at Detroit. "We're playing better pass defense than run defense, which has to stop quickly.
"The rest of the areas, we're making good progress. We just have to make sure we play better against Tampa Bay than we did against Detroit."
Pass coverage was considered a potential problem, but cornerback Cris Dishman has proven himself still capable after being released by Kansas City, and teams aren't even bothering to pick on converted receiver Robert Tate.
The linebacking corps has also been solid, though Kailee Wong was moved from the strong side to the middle, Dwayne Rudd from weak side to strong side and Ed McDaniel was returned to the weak side after playing middle linebacker.
Offensively, Culpepper continues to impress in new and different ways. In previous games, his running ability stood out. Against the Lions, he connected seven times with receiver Randy Moss for 168 yards and three touchdowns.
"The first touchdown that Randy had was a route adjustment," Green said. "It was made to look easy, but it was easy because they both saw the exact same thing. That's the kind of smart player that Daunte is.
"Potentially, we have a chance to be a good offense. We'd like it to be the best offense we've had, but so far it's not."
The offense has a ways to go match the record-setting 1998 Vikings, Green said, but it's well ahead of expectations.
The offensive line, for example, was expected to struggle to replace Pro Bowl center Jim Christy and left guard Randall McDaniel, who left via free agency, but this group is bigger and is particularly strong in run-blocking situations. The organization had a better idea than the public, Stringer said, that center Matt Birk and left guard Corbin Lacina could step in and succeed.
"It's not just an idea, it's a belief," Stringer said. "As you prepare together, you see what people can do. We haven't even tapped into what we can do."
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