Committee Could Get Larger

Vikings head coach Mike Tice figured on keeping four running backs, but a crowded and talented backfield might not trim down that far. Now Tice is thinking of keeping more.

Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice came into training camp thinking he would carry four running backs, but the more he sees from his stable, the better chance that five will make the final roster.

Michael Bennett is clearly the starter, and Tice said that he's working Bennett in short-yardage plays to see if he can handle the punishment.

Tice said he has to find a way for second-year back Onterrio Smith to get some carries, and right now, veteran Moe Williams is the short-yardage choice, although a calf injury has lingered and kept Williams from finishing a practice in the last half-week.

Tice is high on rookie Mewelde Moore, who won't likely be in the backfield much but is being counted on as the top kick returner and possibly a backup punt returner.

"However I can help the team, that's what I'll do," Moore said. "We have so many great backs here, it's an opportunity for me to learn from everybody."

The play of second-year back Larry Ned and rookie free agent Butchie Wallace has caused Tice to rethink his roster.

"We may have to keep five," he said.

Kicker Aaron Elling has struggled this camp, making only 3 of 7 field goals in Saturday's practice against Kansas City and missing his only attempt during a two-minute drill Monday.

"I'm pressing to give the coaches some confidence in me," Elling said. "I'm putting too much pressure on myself, and that catches up with you."

Tice said he thinks Elling is getting too much coaching, and he just needs to relax and focus on fundamentals.

"If we do that for a week and he's still not doing well, then I'll be worried," he said.

Receiver Keenan Howry (knee) and running back Onterrio Smith (hip) both missed Monday's practice, but linebacker Mike Nattiel (ankle), receiver Marcus Robinson (hamstring), running back Michael Bennett (neck) and tight end Jermaine Wiggins (shoulder) all returned.

Defensive end Kenechi Udeze suffered a bruised knee during Monday's workout, and defensive tackle Chris Hovan had a shoulder stinger, but both finished practice.

Tice said he set a camp record by having the team run 109 plays Monday.

He said the previous high was 92 plays, and he put the team through 930 plays last week.

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