Elling's Challenge

While the kicking situation may not be settled yet, there is reason to be optimistic, according to head coach Mike Tice, who outlined what Aaron Elling has to do to hold onto his job.

Aaron Elling appeared to win the battle for the kicking position this week when the Vikings severed ties with Hayden Epstein and Todd France. But that doesn't mean he can relax anytime soon.

Elling — a free agent out of Wyoming who is considered a first-year player despite spending time with Seattle (2002) and Miami (2001) — must continue to prove himself or he will end up in the same boat as Epstein and France.

"We are looking at the waiver wire (at kicker)," coach Mike Tice said. "He certainly has to show me some improvement on the kickoffs. Not that the kickoffs have been bad, but he is not carrying over the kickoffs from practice to the game. His field goals have been very good.

"I want to see the way he is kicking in practice to carry over to the game. More than anything, if you can get it around the 4.2 hang time — not so much the distance but if you can get a 4.2 hang time — that translates into better coverage."

Tice said Elling has been averaging a hang time of 4.0, "Which is not horrible."

The hang time on kickoffs was 3.8 last season.

"It is an improvement but it is not to the point where we want it to be," Tice said. "The point is that he has the ability to do it. He shows us in practice that he can do it. Now I told him that I would like to see a couple of those in the game."

Elling enters the Vikings' preseason finale against Arizona having made a 48-yard field goal in his only attempt.

Epstein was the favorite to win the kicking job when training camp opened, but he never recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that he suffered in the second-to-last game of the regular season against Miami.

Along with Elling, the Vikings kept sixth-round pick Eddie Johnson to handle the punting duties. Johnson beat out Nick Murphy for the job.

"The good thing about Eddie is when he shanks a kick, its 40 yards, and that's a sign of great leg strength," Tice said. "He needs to work on his consistency and continue to work on his get-off time. But certainly he has improved his get-off time. … Nick Murphy had a nice preseason, but Eddie had a stronger leg. We drafted Eddie for a reason, to be our punter, and he's our punter."

Viking Update Top Stories