Just For Kicks

The Vikings' kicking nightmare over the last three years has been noteworthy. With the first phase of free agency and the draft behind them, has anything changed?

The Vikings have had a checkered history when it comes to kickers since coach Mike Tice made the tough draft-day decision three years ago to let Gary Anderson go. The names have run like "who's that" of kicking -- Doug Brien, Hayden Epstein, Aaron Elling, Morten Andersen and Jose Cortez have each tried and failed to certain degrees.

The Vikings currently find themselves in a familiar position -- having a question mark at kicker. After missing out on Ohio State kicker Mike Nugent, the Vikings have another dilemma to face -- who takes the kicking job in 2005?

After losing faith in Andersen's ability to even make a 40-yard field goal, Cortez, Elling and rookie Jonathan Nichols are the current frontrunners for the 2005 job, but it may not be that simple. In fact, before all is said and done, the Vikings may go to their past to find their future.

When the Jets took Nugent, Brien became available and, after signing two kickers, the Bears are likely to get rid of Paul Edinger -- a kicker the Vikings signed to an offer sheet that was eventually matched by the Bears. One of these two could easily be wearing purple when training camp opens at the end of July.

With all the improvements the Vikings made on the defensive side of the ball and depth that was added on offense, special teams remains a huge concern that, for now anyway, remains unaddressed. The improvements are tremendous, but until the Vikings settle a kicking situation that has been a thorn in their side for three years, the team transformation won't be complete.

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