Kicking Competition Highlights Friday's Camp

The Vikings started to turn up the heat in a kicking competition that is expected to last well into training camp between Aaron Elling and Paul Edinger. Plus, learn about R.W. McQuarters' visit and other notes from Friday's practice.

Kickers Aaron Elling and Paul Edinger did some work outdoors Thursday, but their big day of competition was saved for Friday, the final day of the second week of developmental camp.

Special teams coordinator Rusty Tillman worked Elling, Edinger and Jonathan Nichols' kicking competition into an organized full-team workout.

Each of the kickers made their shorter field goals – starting at 28 yards and moving back to 33 yards – while being harassed by players on the sidelines. Daunte Culpepper led the distracting crew by yelling for timeout on some occasions while the kickers tried to remain focused on the kick that lay ahead.

The chaff started to separate at 38 yards. Nichols got the first miss of the competition, pushing his attempt from that distance wide right.

Elling had his first miss at 43 yards, coming up short and to the right as it appeared his foot hit the ground before making contact with the ball. Edinger was true from that distance, and Nichols came up short as a slight breeze blew into his kick.

Elling rebounded with a booming kick through the uprights with distance to spare on his next kick.

While Nichols came up short again from 48 yards, Edinger made good on his 48-yarder, hitting his fourth in a row in the competition.

Both Elling and Edinger came up short from beyond 50 yards, but that last distance drill was as much for the Vikings to set up a return on long field goals as it was for the kickers. Rookie wide receiver Troy Williamson was the return man.

During a second competition later in practice, all three kickers were good from 28, 31, 34, 37 and 39 yards in each of their attempts from those distances.

"Aaron hits the ball very, very well and still lacks some consistency, but it's June 3, and certainly Edinger has the experience and the poise that you're looking for," head coach Mike Tice said. "But we haven't gotten to the kickoffs yet, and Edinger needs to work on his kickoffs. I'm pretty sure he'll bounce back with his accuracy. He had an off year. Aaron is just the opposite. He needs to work on his (field goal) accuracy. I think it's going to be a competition that's going to go down to the wire."

After practice, Edinger called his fight for a job with Elling "about even" and told Viking Update he didn't feel his leg strength was a liability on kickoffs.

McQUARTERS, NICKELS AND DIMES

Cornerback R.W. McQuarters, in town for a visit, attended practice in street clothes and talked with fellow Oklahoma State alum Kevin Williams. Marcus Robinson, a former teammate of McQuarters' with the Bears, also greeted McQuarters.

McQuarters declined to talk with the media in-depth, but indications are that nothing is imminent in his signing. The Vikings expect that this is his last visit. He has visited four other teams.

His versatility as a cornerback, free safety and punt returner make him an intriguing prospect to the Vikings.

"I think knowing that he is a return guy that has return ability, not necessarily would he walk in and win the return job over Keenan (Howry) or Mewelde Moore. Certainly (McQuarters) would give us some depth at worst-case scenario. He has returned three punts for touchdowns in his career," Tice said. "Last year he played some free safety. We have Kenny Irvin playing some free safety right now. The versatility is a great thing.

"But knowing that he's a veteran guy, another guy that knows the division and he seems to be a very stout and very strong player, I think he would be a good addition regardless of who else we have back there."

If Brian Williams would continue to hold out and the Vikings did sign McQuarters, he could compete with Ralph Brown and/or Ken Irvin for the nickel back role, along with putting the pressure on other players hoping to secure a spot as a punt returner.

Tice said McQuarters' presence had nothing to do with the absences of Chavous and Williams.

"I discussed the situation with the guys that aren't here. They're going to come to training camp with their heads together, ready to compete and help us win a championship," Tice said. "They're going through the business part of football that a lot of people don't like, including me. But we all have to remember this is a business. There's a lot of pride involved with these young athletes, and I've had my conversations with both players and I wish they were here getting this work and being involved in this enthusiasm and this chemistry-building. But the guys respect their rights to do what's best for them and their families, and so do I."

NOTES

  • Punter Darren Bennett held during the field goal attempts in the first round and quarterback Brad Johnson held in the second round. Johnson made one nice recovery on a low snap that saved a field goal.

  • In the second-team defense, seventh-round draft choice Adrian Ward is getting the most work at right cornerback while Ralph Brown, the first-team nickel back in the absence of Brian Williams, is playing left cornerback with the second team. Rushen Jones and Ken Irvin have been the second-team safeties because rookie Dustin Fox is still at Ohio State and Corey Chavous continues his "holdout" from the voluntary camp. The diminutive Ward had a nice interception during full-team drills.

  • Tight end Jermaine Wiggins is picking up where he left off last year. He has regularly found the seam in the middle of the field, and on one occasion Friday caught a short pass and turned it into a 20-yard touchdown.

  • The "light" moment of the day came when big nose tackle Pat Williams came down with a pass deflected at the line of scrimmage. After making the interception, Williams started "sprinting" down the right sideline while offensive players grabbed at him while laughing at the prospect of a 317-pounder rumbling with the ball.

  • In one offensive series, Williamson drew a defensive pass interference call in the end zone and later followed it up with a 9-yard touchdown on a crisp out-and-in pattern.

  • The Vikings have been ironing out details of their training camp schedule for the past few weeks, but reporting date for the players is July 29 with the first practice scheduled for July 30. The remaining details have yet to be announced.

  • The team's third week of developmental camp starts Monday and runs through Thursday.


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