Running Back, Kicking Competition Start Early

The Vikings' first practice of training camp included a kicking competition between Aaron Elling and Paul Edinger, and ended with some mildly surprising comments by head coach Mike Tice on the running back situation. The Vikings also had a number of players who were held out of practice (besides the No. 1 draft choices) and some that were put through a conditioning test. Let the practice reports begin.

While Michael Bennett is still the favorite to win the starting running back position, Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice said that Moe Williams will also get more playing time, and not just on third down.

"Every single time we ask Moe to do something, he doesn't do it OK, he does it great," Tice said. "I think we want to see Moe get more carries in a regular offensive scheme. First and second down ... Moe could end up being that second guy in."

Williams rushed 30 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns last season, and he had 23 receptions for 305 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown catch against Green Bay in the playoffs.

"I think they're looking at me more for leadership," Williams said. "They haven't told me anything about what my role will be. It's up to them, I leave that up to the coaches and never take anything for granted."

Kicking update

Aaron Elling and Paul Edinger each got their first kicks of training camp on Saturday as the team went through a half-speed field goal drill. Elling, who was cut last year, re-signed before Week 2 and suffered a broken ankle in Week 7 trying to make a tackle, made 5 of 6 kicks from close range, getting one low kick blocked.

Edinger, who was released by the Bears and signed in May, was 6 of 6.

"There will be enough situational kicking sprinkled throughout camp that we won't need a preseason game to tell who our kicker will be," Tice said. "The kickers know they have to be aware that (they may have to kick) at any point during practice."

No No. 1s

First-round draft choices Troy Williamson and Erasmus James both missed Saturday's first practice and weren't expected in Mankato for the afternoon workout. James is waiting in the Twin Cities while his agent negotiates, while Williamson is still at home in Florida.

"Rob (Brzezinski) is working hard on it," Tice said. "Hopefully, we'll get one done soon, and the other is progressing. Any time lost physically and mentally puts you behind the eight-ball. Fortunately, both players had excellent offseasons."

No practice

Linebacker Napoleon Harris was not at practice Saturday morning and most likely won't be at the afternoon practice. Harris was attending a family funeral and wasn't expected to arrive in Mankato until early evening.

Cornerback Fred Smoot and receiver Christopher Jones are both on the physically-unable-to-perform list and didn't participate Saturday morning. Smoot suffered a sprained neck while lifting weights last week, and Tice said he is day-to-day.

"Now, I'll never get him to lift again," Tice said.

Jones suffered a leg injury and was scheduled to rejoin the team for afternoon practice.

Tice said that Pro Bowl center Matt Birk will miss at least a week of practice, maybe two, as he recovers from offseason hip surgery.

"He's pain free for the first time in a year," Tice said. "His spirits are very good."

Guard Shannon Snell left Mankato on Saturday to fly home to Tampa, Fla., where his wife gave birth to twins on Friday.

Brian Williams, Ken Irvin, Kelly Campbell and Corey Chavous were among the handful of players put through a conditioning test Saturday morning. Tice said that players who did not attend at least 80 percent of the offseason workouts were given the extra test, and he said all players passed with ease.

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