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Bengals kicker battle update: Jake Elliott still struggling while Randy Bullock looks superior

Will Jake Elliott overcome his early mistakes to win this battle with Randy Bullock?

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

With three preseason games left, it’s now a toss-up as to who the Cincinnati Bengals’ kicker will be.

This seemed like a decision made months ago when Cincinnati spent a fifth-round pick on Memphis kicker Jake Elliott, making him the first kicker drafted this year. The Bengals are also very keen on keeping their draft picks as rookies, giving them ample time to showcase their full potential.

That’s why it seemed like a done deal that Elliott would be the Bengals’ kicker come Week 1 of the regular season. However, the Bengals also re-signed veteran Randy Bullock earlier in the offseason, which ultimately gave them insurance in case Elliott turned into a disaster.

Well, that scenario may be playing out. Elliott had an up-and-down training camp that saw him miss several field goals, as well as an extra point, something the Bengals saw far too much of in 2016 with Mike Nugent.

In the process, Bullock has made just about every kick in camp and looked like the superior kicker. That continued Wednesday as Bullock was perfect on all of his attempts, while Elliott was a disaster:

Elliott will not be able to have many more misses, especially on PATs, if he’s to give the Bengals’ coaching staff enough confidence to keep him on the final roster. We saw this team lose far too many close games in 2016 that could have been wins had the kicking situation been better. That can’t be allowed to happen again in 2017, which could mean Bullock winning the job over Elliott if this keeps up.

To his credit, Elliott did make a 45-yard field goal and convert his lone PAT in the Bengals’ preseason win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, that was overshadowed by Bullock converting his PAT and a pair of field goals, including a 54-yarder.

This has now become a highly-contested battle that could be decided in the next three preseason games, beginning Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Elliott still has plenty of time to get a leg up in this race, but there’s no question Bullock is very much a threat to win it as well.