Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper will miss the rest of the season and perhaps part of next season because of a severe injury to his right knee.

Culpepper suffered damage to the three major ligaments in the knee: the anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and medial collateral.

Coach Mike Tice said yesterday that Culpepper, who was hurt on the final play of the first quarter in Sunday's 38-13 loss at Carolina, will have surgery in the coming weeks once the swelling subsides.

Minnesota will use veteran Brad Johnson as its starter.

Culpepper was hit low and from the side by Panthers CB Chris Gamble while scrambling for a first down.

* RAMS: Joe Vitt, the Rams' interim head coach while Mike Martz recovers from a heart ailment, underwent a heart procedure of his own yesterday.

The procedure, a cardiac catheterization, was so minor in nature that Vitt, 51, was back to work by lunchtime. He held his regular 3 p.m. postgame news conference, making a handful of jokes about his health. An angioplasty had been scheduled, but doctors decided it was not necessary.

Martz, 54, is being treated for endocarditis, an infection of the lining or the valves of the heart, and will not return this season.

Vitt, an NFL assistant for 26 years, has had previous health problems. He has recovered from two bouts of testicular cancer, the first when he was 23, the second nearly 20 years ago.

* SAINTS: An NFL spokesman said that the league likely won't take action against New Orleans owner Tom Benson, who a day earlier lunged at a television news crew, grabbing a camera and wrenching it downward.

"It appears to be nothing more than a brief, heated exchange with a member of the media that was caught on camera," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "It's not the first time in the world of sports entertainment that something like this has occurred. It was a tough day for the Saints and their fans."

WWL-TV, a CBS affiliate in New Orleans, was videotaping Benson leaving the Saints game in Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday after a loss to the Dolphins. Chris Slaughter, the station's assistant news director, said his gameday crews routinely tape Benson departing after games.

* CHARGERS: Rookie DE Derreck Robinson was arrested early yesterday on a drunken driving charge. He was taken into custody after crashing into a concrete center divider in the San Diego suburb of La Mesa at 1:17 a.m., a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol said. Robinson, 23, was driving alone and was not injured. He was released from jail.

* COWBOYS: LB Al Singleton broke his collarbone in Sunday's win over the Cardinals and might miss the rest of the season. Singleton, 30, was injured in the third quarter while making a tackle. He has started seven games this season.

* BUCCANEERS: Simeon Rice's stay in the Tampa Bay doghouse apparently won't last long.

He was sent home before Sunday's loss at San Francisco. However, Coach Jon Gruden said that the three-time Pro Bowl DE will return to the lineup this week against Carolina.

Although the Bucs didn't announce the reason Rice was deactivated Sunday, the team's sacks leader is believed to have missed a team meeting after the club arrived in California on Saturday.

* BENGALS: Cincinnati put S Madieu Williams (Maryland) on injured reserve, ending his season a week after he had shoulder surgery. The second-year starter played in the first four games, then hurt his shoulder in practice Sept. 30. The team activated G Steven Vieira to take his roster spot.

* FAN PLEADS NOT GUILTY: The fan who ran out of the stands and snatched a football from Brett Favre's hand pleaded not guilty to a variety of charges at his arraignment. Gregory Gall, 31, of Cincinnati, is accused of resisting arrest, trespass and disorderly conduct while intoxicated. He was released on his own recognizance.

* CARDINALS: An MRI exam determined the knee injury WR Anquan Boldin suffered during Sunday's loss at Dallas was nothing more than a bone bruise.

No timetable was set for Boldin's return, but the team said he wouldn't be out as long as feared.

He came out of the game with 39 catches for a team-high 616 yards this season.