Chargers 16

(1-2, 0-2 away)

Vikings 19

(2-1, 2-0 home)

8:00 PM ET, August 26, 2005


1 2 3 4 T
SD 7 0 3 616
MIN 3 13 3 019

Injury gives Edinger leg up in Vikings kicker competition

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Vikings may have found their kicker.

Locked in a dead-even battle with Aaron Elling, Paul Edinger kicked four field goals, including a 50-yarder to lead the Vikings to a 19-16 exhibition victory over the San Diego Chargers on Friday night.

Edinger, signed as a free agent after a disappointing season with Chicago, got his chance after Elling hurt his leg during warmups.

The biggest story for the Chargers was first-round pick Shawne Merriman's sprained left knee in the first quarter. Merriman, the 12th overall choice in the draft, is listed as day-to-day and said after the game that he didn't think the injury was that serious.

Daunte Culpepper continued his stellar preseason, going 12-for-14 for 197 yards, but failed to lead the Vikings to a touchdown in just over 1½ quarters.

Edinger provided most of the scoring. His 50-yarder in the second quarter easily sailed through the uprights, and he added field goals of 25, 30 and 20 yards.

The Vikings signed Edinger away from the Bears in the offseason to compete with Elling. He showcased impressive leg strength with the long field goal and kickoffs that consistently reached the end zone.

Chargers rookie Darren Sproles negated two of those strong kickoffs with nifty returns. The speedy fourth-round pick zigzagged his way to a 32-yard return in the first quarter, then ripped off a 42-yarder in the second quarter after spinning out of a tackle to gain 10 more yards.

Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer played his starters sparingly in the team's second game in six days.

Quarterback Drew Brees played one series, going 4-for-6 for 64 yards, including a 16-yard pass to Keenan McCardell for a 7-0 Chargers lead.

LaDainian Tomlinson did not play and neither did All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates, who sat out the first of a three-game suspension that includes the season-opener against Dallas for missing a team-imposed deadline to report to training camp on time.

Brees' backup, Philip Rivers, was unimpressive, completing 4 of his 15 passes for 15 yards. Third-stringer Cleo Lemon was 14-of-19 for 136 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown to Carl Morris in the fourth period.

Vikings coach Mike Tice got his first look at a revamped offensive line, and it showed mixed results.

Four-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk said Thursday he will have surgery on his injured left hip, which likely will keep him out for the season. Birk said he was willing to try and play with the pain if the Vikings would guarantee his nearly $4 million salary in 2006, but the Vikings declined. That moved backup Cory Withrow to starter at center, and Tice moved starting right guard Adam Goldberg to the primary backup at center and both guard spots, Chris Liwienski from right guard to left guard and inserted rookie Marcus Johnson as the starter at right guard.

The new-look line yielded only one sack, but also opened up few holes in the running game for Mewelde Moore, who started in place of the injured Michael Bennett. Moore had six carries for 21 yards before leaving in the second quarter with a sprained ankle.

Adimchinobe Echemandu scored the Vikings' only touchdown of the game, a 1-yard plunge at the end of the second quarter.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


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