Who Will Comprise The Special Teams?

The Vikings may have the more concerns on special teams than any other unit because they are loaded with young players trying to make good first impressions. Here are the main questions to be resolved in the next month on special teams.

Rusty Tillman was brought in to forge solutions in an area that was terrible last season. One thing's for sure: There will be a lot of new faces.

1. Who will handle the placekicking?
Three unprovens — Hayden Epstein, Aaron Elling and Todd France — are competing for the job with ageless veteran Gary Anderson quietly in the wings as a last resort.

Epstein has the most actual game experience. Elling could be the darkhorse candidate from the group. France got some experience in Europe this summer. All three have enough ability, but the key is showing enough consistency to earn Tice's confidence.

Epstein was the most impressive in the team's first placekicking competition, connecting on three field goals from 50 yards or more.

2. Is Eddie Johnson the next Mitch Berger?
He could be. Like Berger, he thinks of himself as an athlete, not just a kicker. And he can certainly boom the ball and handle kickoffs. Consistency is the key.

Nick Murphy earned All-NFL Europe honors this summer, so he'll keep Johnson from taking anything for granted.

3. Who solidifies the return game?
There are plenty of very viable options. Onterrio Smith and John Avery offer big-play potential on kickoff returns, while rookie Keenan Howry is an experienced, skilled punt returner. Kelly Campbell could also get a look, and veteran D'Wayne Bates is deceptively effective back there.

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