EDEN PRAIRIE (AP) -- Daunte Culpepper doesn't miss games, so nobody expects him to on Sunday.
Culpepper is expected to start against Pittsburgh despite a strained ligament in his left knee. He was injured last week in a 13-6 loss to Chicago and had an MRI exam Wednesday after practicing lightly. The exam revealed a strain of his posterior cruciate ligament.
"I think he's a good competitor," coach Dennis Green said Thursday. "He's always going to go on the field and play. I don't think he feels he's ever missed a game. The key thing is for us to do everything we can to keep him healthy."
Culpepper, the team's leading rusher with 416 yards on five touchdowns, participated in practice Thursday afternoon and was listed as probable for the game against the Steelers.
But his mobility might be limited.
"We won't use him as much outside," Green said. "We expect him not to run as much."
MORE INJURIES: The prognosis for fullback Jim Kleinsasser doesn't look as good. He was downgraded Thursday from probable to questionable with an ankle injury.
"The thing you fear most about an ankle is a timetable," Green said. "He's not doing as well as we thought. It's kind of slowed down a little bit, even from last week. He's working hard on the rehab. It just might be a week or two before he is ready."
Harold Morrow filled in capably for Kleinsasser last week against the Bears. Right guard David Dixon is also questionable with a calf injury. If he can't go, Cory Withrow will start. But linebackers Kailee Wong (knee) and Ed McDaniel (ankle) and offensive linemen Corbin Lacina (lower leg) and Brad Badger (toe) are all probable for Sunday.
DEFENSIVE DROPSIES: There might not be anything more frustrating for a defensive back than a dropped interception. Defensive backs and assistant head coach Willie Shaw has counted 16 this year by his charges.
"And I'm not counting the ones that were just tight coverage where we just broke it up," Shaw said. "I'm talking, we've dropped 16 passes. Probably the first eight to 10 drops, we did all kind of ball drills. We did tipped ball drills, deep ball drills, tight ball drills -- every week. I think we were pressing a little bit, so the last couple weeks I've tried to back off a little bit."
The return of Robert Griffith and the addition of Dale Carter to the Vikings' secondary have been a big boost to the pass coverage the past two games. But a couple of interceptions -- in place of incompletions -- in Sunday's loss to the Bears could've changed the outcome.
"We've just got to hold on to the ball, and hopefully the ones that will come will come," Shaw said. "In the meantime, we've just got to keep playing good, smart coverage and challenging routes."
COURAGE AWARD: Culpepper received the Vikings' Ed Block Award, given to a player on each NFL team for showing courage and doing work in the community. Players vote for the honor, which Culpepper will receive at a banquet in Baltimore on March 6. Ed Block was a humanitarian and outspoken advocate of children's rights as well as a longtime athletic trainer for tte Baltimore Colts. The award was first given nationally in 1984.
WELCOME BACK, GARY: Kicker Gary Anderson, the NFL's all-time leading scorer, might be a little nostalgic on Sunday. He spent 13 seasons with the Steelers from 1982-1994.
"Probably my fondest (memory) was just the initial experience of coming right out of college and being in the locker room with those great Steeler players. Guys like Jack Lambert, Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris. Coming right out of Syracuse University to walk into the locker room and be on the same team as maybe 10 or 12 of some of the greatest players who have ever played the game, that was an experience that I will never forget."
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