Two Rookies To Kick in '03?

Punter Eddie Johnson assured his roster spot on the final 2003 roster Monday, as Mike Tice announced his first batch of cuts. However, VU is hearing conflicting reports on the guaranteed status of kicker Aaron Elling.

The Vikings didn't wait until this afternoon's NFL-imposed deadline to make roster cuts to get down to 65 players. They made their moves Monday.

There were really no surprises in the announced cuts. They are as follows: DT LaWaylon Brown, OT Robbie Doane, C Michael Early, K Todd France, TE Matt Huebner, CB Jermaine Mays, CB Willie Miles, P Nick Murphy, LB Jarrod Penright, DE Andrew Tippins and QB Juston Wood.

Following the announced cuts, VU was told that the Vikings reached an injury settlement with kicker Hayden Epstein, who missed two field goals in the Raiders game, and he was also released.

The result is that, heading into the final preseason game Thursday, the Vikings have given the punting job to rookie Eddie Johnson and Aaron Elling is the only kicker still on the roster. However, that isn't to say he is a lock to keep the job.

VU has been told that not only are the Vikings interested in Oakland backup Joe O'Donnell, who has no chance of supplanting Sebastian Janikowski barring another arrest, but are also interested in veteran Brett Conway, who will likely be cut by the Colts today. For now, it's Elling's job -- giving the Vikings a rare opportunity to have two players with no NFL experience as their kickers on opening day.

Will it last? Johnson is safe. Elling is another question.

TUESDAY NOTES
* Don't be surprised to see the Vikings pick up at least one player from today's cut list. VU has been told that the team has been watching a handful of players they expect to be preseason casualties and, if their names pop up, the Vikes are ready to pounce on at least one of them.
* As reported yesterday, the Vikings put RB Michael Bennett and kick returner Nick Davis on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list. Translation: Neither can be activated before Week 7.
* The Vikings anticipated opening-day defense practiced together Monday for the first time since Ken Irvin dislocated his toe. Both Irvin and fellow CB Denard Walker were practicing with the first unit defense today. VU has been told that the Vikes may err on the side of caution with both of them for Thursday's game with the Cardinals and let them sit out in preparation for the Packers.

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