Sports Outside the Beltway

Harrington Lions Starter, Culpepper Benched Indefinitely

Dolphins coach Nick Saban confirmed that Daunte Culpepper has been benched in favor of Joey Harrington.

Dolphins coach Nick Saban said Monday that when his team opens practice for next Sunday’s visit to the New York Jets, Harrington will be the first-stringer. Daunte Culpepper will enter a rehab-type program designed to help restore some explosive movement in his surgically rebuilt right knee.

“We’ll evaluate it on a week-to-week basis,” Saban said. “This week, we’re going to plan to play like we did last week. … We’re going to work with Daunte, improve his movement, give him some reps in practice, get Joey ready to play in the game. Now, does that make him the starter? I guess that makes him the starter.”


And while Saban said Culpepper’s shoulder remains a concern, it was clear that the knee recovery issues were foremost in his decision to continue with Harrington.

The decision could change “any time,” Saban said, but no timetable for Culpepper’s return exists.

“When he’s playing and he can move laterally and quickly, not just in straight-ahead running, but in lateral movements and quick, explosive movements,” Saban said when asked what he needs to see before he’d return Culpepper to the starting role. “That’s what we’ll be looking for.”

Saban is almost certainly doing what’s in the long term interests of the team. It has to be disappointing to Dolphins fans, though, to see a team that was favored to make a run deep into the playoffs–and on many prognosticators’ Super Bowl list–have to rely on the unreliable Joey Harrington. Even worse, doing so in a way that announces to the world that Harrington is just a stop-gap until Culpepper heals up.

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