Vikings host Chargers in new stadium debut
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Here's a look at Sunday's preseason games around the NFL. (All times EDT):
THE SHIP COMES IN
San Diego at Minnesota, 1 p.m.
The Vikings will take the field in their gleaming new stadium for the first time, showing off the $1.1 billion venue to their fans - and the Chargers, whose 15-year quest to replace aged Qualcomm Stadium has yielded only uncertainty about the franchise's future in San Diego. An attempt to move to Los Angeles last winter was blocked by the Rams and the NFL.
The Vikings were once a candidate to move, but they're not going anywhere now with light-filled, ship-shaped U.S. Bank Stadium now towering over the east edge of downtown Minneapolis where the Metrodome once stood. After a public open house, an international soccer exhibition and a couple of concerts, from country singer Luke Bryan to hard-rocking Metallica, it's finally time for football under the translucent roof.
''Hopefully we can make this a home,'' Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
Running back Adrian Peterson will just be a spectator against the Chargers.
The 10th-year veteran, who has not taken a preseason snap since 2011, was given the choice of whether or not to play a few downs but opted not to.
''I just really thought about it and didn't feel like it was the best thing,'' Peterson said.
An awkward season for the Chargers has started as poorly as possible with the holdout of defensive end Joey Bosa, the third pick in the draft whose representatives have clashed with the front office over seemingly minor structures to his contract.
HONEY BADGER IS BACK
Arizona at Houston, 4:25 p.m.
Cardinals all-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu, who came off the physically unable to perform list last week after finishing his recovery from a torn ACL in his right knee that kept him out of the playoffs last winter, will make his preseason debut with 10 to 12 plays against the Texans. So will cornerback Justin Bethel, who had foot surgery in the spring and is competing with Mike Jenkins and rookie Brandon Williams for the starting cornerback spot opposite Patrick Peterson.
The Cardinals, after advancing further into the NFL's elite with a 13-3 regular-season finish in 2015, will undoubtedly be looking around at Houston's NRG Stadium and pondering the possibility of a February return for the Super Bowl.
The Texans will have a valuable opportunity to test their passing game against one of the league's best defenses, with new quarterback Brock Osweiler aiming to build off a solid performance last week against New Orleans when he led the first team to 13 points in the first half. Rookie wide receiver Will Fuller, a key addition to the offense, was the target on the touchdown pass against the Saints and finished with 73 yards on four catches.
LOOKING AT LAFELL
Cincinnati at Jacksonville, 8 p.m.
One of the biggest issues for the Bengals this season will be the replacement of wide receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, their top two targets behind star A.J. Green who left as free agents. Second-round draft pick Tyler Boyd has impressed the team in limited action in the first two exhibition games, including a 40-yard catch in the opener and a diving 26-yard grab to go with a 12-yard touchdown reception last week.
Brandon LaFell is the other newcomer, having left New England to join the Bengals, but an injured right hand that kept him out of the first two games has kept his impact on the offense more of a mystery. The seventh-year veteran is expected to play for the first time at Jacksonville, an important step toward building chemistry with quarterback Andy Dalton.
''They've practiced together for three and a half weeks, but the game is a little different because you can get tackled,'' coach Marvin Lewis said. ''That's the biggest difference. It's a positive for him to get an opportunity to play.''
The Jaguars will be closely watching left tackle Kelvin Beachum, playing his first game since tearing the ACL in his left knee last October.
After signing a five-year, $45 million contract with Jacksonville, the former Pittsburgh Steelers starter sat out the team's entire offseason program and the first two exhibition games while completing his recovery from reconstructive surgery. The Jaguars have slid over Luke Joeckel, the second overall pick in the 2013 draft, to left guard in attempt to solidify an offensive line that allowed an NFL-high 122 sacks the last two years.
Jacksonville's first-team offense will be out to replicate sharp performances in the first two preseason games. In five possessions, the Jaguars starters have produced three touchdowns and a field goal for 24 points.
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