Kicker Battle Still Too Close To Call

Aaron Elling and Paul Edinger have both had good training camps, making this one of the closest races for a starting spot in Vikings camp.

Aaron Elling and Paul Edinger continue to make life difficult for Mike Tice and his coaching staff as they try to decide which kicker they want to keep. The two have been running neck-and-neck all through training camp.

"They are both doing a great job and we'd be good with either one of those kids," Tice said. "They both really have had great preseasons. They both deserve to kick in this league and it will be a tough decision."

Elling has the stronger leg and therefore can boom it into the end zone, but Edinger is the more reliable when it comes to career percentage on field-goal attempts (75.3 percent to 70.3 percent).

The Vikings are very familiar with Elling. He was their kicker in 2003 and was expected to hold the role in 2004 but a rough stretch got him cut after training camp. Elling eventually returned to the team as a kickoff specialist.

Edinger, released by Chicago after spending five seasons with the Bears, was pursued by the Vikings as a restricted free agent in 2003. Edinger had a rough 2004, hitting a career-low 62.5 percent of his field-goal attempts.

Both kickers appear to have plenty of confidence in camp. While Edinger isn't a threat to consistently put his kickoffs into the end zone, he has done it on occasion. In last Friday's preseason game against the Jets, Edinger's first kickoff of the night went 70 yards and ended up as a touchback.

Edinger missed the Vikings' only field-goal attempt of the night, hitting the left upright from 38 yards out. However, Edinger was hit on the play and the roughing the kicker call gave the Vikings a first down. Both Edinger and Elling were perfect on field goals in the exhibition opener, with Edinger hitting from 48 yards and Elling from 40.

Meanwhile, it appears Darren Bennett's punting job is safe despite his early preseason struggles. Bennett, who has had a good camp, struggled against Kansas City and then got off to a rough start against the Jets when his first attempt went only 29 yards and was returned to the New York 31-yard line.

Tice decided to let Bennett work his way out of the slump, giving him all seven punts in the game. He ended up with a 43.7-yard average, with a long of 51 and one inside the 20-yard line.

Tice had planned to use second-string punter Travis Dorsch against the Jets and promised that Dorsch would see action this Friday against San Diego.

"He deserves it," Tice said of Dorsch. "He has been with us for two years. I really like the kid. He deserves some kicks. He's only punted about five times for us in games, in two pre-seasons. I don't think that's a fair shot, myself."


  • Corbin Lacina (offense) and Regis Eller (defense), who have been working as fellowship coaching interns during camp, are being considered for full-time jobs during the season. The Vikings want to keep Lacina because they need someone to assist offensive coordinator and line coach Steve Loney during games. Eller, the son of former Vikings Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller, has been working in a role similar to that of defensive quality control coach.
  • The Vikings will continue to practice twice a day but only one session will be in pads for the rest of camp, which has now moved from Mankato to the Vikings' Eden Prairie headquarters and is closed to the public. "I think two-a-days are done," coach Mike Tice said. "I don't think we need to bang twice a day."
  • Coach Mike Tice wants to extend the time the Vikings spend at training camp in Mankato by three or four days. The Vikings broke camp last Thursday because Minnesota State, Mankato, needed to get its dorm facilities back for freshmen orientation. The Vikings will meet with Mankato officials in the next 30 days to discuss the issue. "I think it would be good to stay in that training camp mentality for another week," Tice said. One reason Tice wants to stay longer is because the Vikings' Winter Park facility in Eden Prairie, Minn., does not have the space or amount of fields that Mankato offers.

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