Elling Sits ... And Waits

There is little doubt that, if his hip injury is sufficiently healed, Aaron Elling will be kicking in the NFL on opening weekend. What isn't sure is which team he'll be kicking for.

As the Vikings prepare for their final preseason game, Aaron Elling sits in limbo – waiting to learn his fate. What fate that is has yet to materialize – thanks to injury rather than competition.

Elling, who was in a dead heat with free agent signee Paul Edinger heading into last week's game, effectively took himself out of the fight when he injured a hip flexor muscle in pre-game warmups for the Chargers game.

Edinger rose to the challenge – hitting four field goals to lift the Vikings to a win. With Elling sitting this week, it would seem the battle is over – at least from the local perspective. But both are likely to be on NFL rosters when the regular season starts next week. The big question is who and where.

Elling's agent, Frank Murtha, contacted the Vikings medical staff last weekend looking for MRI results from tests on Elling's hip. With a handful of NFL teams with much bigger short-term issues than the Vikings, if Elling becomes the odd man out, having him healthy is priority one.

"My single and only concern with Aaron is what is the status of his health," Murtha told VU. "He and Paul have had a real battle in camp – both were within a field goal of each other in practice and in games."

The timing of the injury, compounded by the strong showing by Edinger last week, has Murtha looking at the potential of moving Elling to a team with dire kicking situations – like the Buccaneers or Cowboys, who had a potential trade with the Jaguars scuttled when Seth Marler failed a Cowboys physical. There is a job to be had for Elling, but now the possibility of it being somewhere else has taken on new meaning.

"Any agent, if he's doing his job, has a short list and a disaster plan," said Murtha, a former Chicago prosecuting attorney. "Obviously, it looks like Paul will win the (Vikings) job with Aaron's injury situation."

As it stands, the Vikings options with Elling are limited – keep him and release Edinger, work out an injury settlement or place him on injured reserve and pay him his 2005 salary. But, according to Murtha a fourth option may exist – keep them both. He pointed out that teams like the Colts and Ravens came into 2005 prepared to allocate two roster spots to kickers and that, for insurance purposes, the Vikings could do the same.

"There is nothing that Rob (Brzezinski), Mike (Tice) or Rusty (Tillman) has said to me, but it is a possibility," Murtha said. "Both of them had great camps."

If, however, Tice holds to his pledge that the Vikings will have only one kicker on the roster, barring a monstrous collapse by Edinger tonight, the handwriting may already be on the wall.

"If that's the case," Murtha said, "Ray Charles could have probably seen what was going to happen here."

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