As the Vikings approach their third preseason game, and likely give their starters their largest workload of the exhibition schedule, the battle for their starting center spot continues between Nick Easton and rookie Pat Elflein. Coach Mike Zimmer sounded on Friday, though, like he expected the competition to reach its conclusion soon.

“[General Manager] Rick [Spielman] and I spent about an hour this morning, evaluating each guy there, going through all their tapes from the preseason practice and things like that,” Zimmer said.

Asked if he thought the position would be finalized after Sunday’s game against the 49ers, Zimmer said, “I hope so. I think I know how it’s going to go, but things change — injuries, or maybe a guy plays the way you expect him to play, or maybe a guy plays better.”

The Vikings started Easton at center in their first preseason game and Elflein in their second, with Easton starting at left guard last Friday against the Seahawks while Alex Boone did not play. Easton started the final five games of last season at center, while Joe Berger moved to guard.

Both Easton and Elflein worked with the Vikings’ first-team offense Friday, trading snaps at center as they have through much of training camp and the preseason.

Marshall’s wait goes on

Former defensive end Jim Marshall will have to wait at least another year to see if he can reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a senior selection.

The Hall of Fame’s senior committee selected former Houston Oilers linebacker Robert Brazile and Green Bay Packers guard Jerry Kramer as its two senior finalists. The careers of both players will be discussed during Super Bowl weekend in Minneapolis in February, when Hall of Fame selectors meet to vote on the Class of 2018.

Marshall ranks second in team annals in sacks with 127, trailing only Carl Eller with 130. He also recovered 29 fumbles in his career. In a career that began in Cleveland and included 19 seasons with the Vikings, Marshall played 282 consecutive games.

“His body would bend,” former Vikings coach Bud Grant said earlier this summer, “but it never broke.”

The Vikings had begun an effort to help Marshall reach the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Brazile and Kramer, meanwhile, would need at least 80 percent of the vote from the Hall of Fame selection committee to be included in next year’s class of inductees.

More time on “bubble”

Under the NFL’s old system, the Vikings and the league’s other 31 teams would have made their first round of roster cuts on Monday, trimming their rosters to 75 players before the final game of the preseason.

But now that the league has done away with the first set of cuts, allowing teams to keep 90 players until the final cutdown to 53 players Sept. 2, a few of the Vikings’ fringe players will get an extra chance to make an impression.

“In the fourth [preseason] game [on Aug. 31], some of these other guys will get, really, another opportunity,” Zimmer said. “Some of the other guys that may have been released or not will get another opportunity. There’s still a lot of bubble guys that will get a lot more playing time in the fourth game than they normally would.”

Line signed

Former Vikings fullback Zach Line signed with the Saints late Wednesday after a workout and was on the practice field on Thursday.

He didn’t see much action in the joint practice but probably will get some reps Saturday. The Saints already have Jon Kuhn at fullback, but signed Line after deciding to release fullback John Robertson-Woodgett. Line played in 31 games, including nine starts for the Vikings the past two years.