Now, nearly four months after the Lions put the finishing touches on an 0-16 season, Culpepper has dropped 30 pounds, regained his confidence, and looks like a completely different player -- both physically and mentally. During the team's first minicamp practice of the offseason, the Detroit Free Press' Nicholas Cotsonika had only laudatory things to say about Culpepper:
You can see the weight loss in his face, and you could see the pep in his step and the zip on the ball. He said he hasn't been this healthy and in shape since 2004, his last great season, when he was putting up huge numbers with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan in Minnesota.New head coach Jim Schwartz added that "I think you guys see the difference in him and I've been very pleased. We still have a long way to go and we're still early in this process, but I think his commitment has shown. It think he has a lot to be proud of - we're proud of him."
And Culpepper, for his part, sounds humble about the opportunity. "I feel like I'm coming out of the draft again, believe it or not. It's kind of strange, but I feel like with the sense that everybody's proving themselves here, I'm just coming here to work. ... I'm going to work to be the starter, that's my goal. ... Coach clearly said there's no depth chart so I accept that and I'm working. He says, if you can play, you'll be on the field, so that's how I'm looking at it."
Things weren't so upbeat for third-year quarterback Drew Stanton. The former second-round pick continues to struggle with the same issue that has plagued him throughout his career: throwing spirals. I've mentioned it the previous two springs, so it should come as no surprise at this point.
Stanton struggled badly. For every sharp spiral he threw, he threw a ball that wobbled or went off target. Quarterback Drew Henson, who once played third base for the Yankees, still has a third baseman's delivery -- a three-quarters sidearm. It's only one day, but there was nothing to suggest the Lions don't need a quarterback in the NFL draft next weekend.Depending on pre-draft negotiations, Stanton could be looking for work soon should the Lions end up with Matthew Stafford. And even if Stanton sticks around, he will never be anything more than a backup. A second-rounder seems like a steep price to pay for a scout team quarterback, particularly on a team with needs up and down the roster.