Kickoff for the Vikings third preseason game, which is also the team's first game at U.S. Bank Stadium, is only hours away. Here are a few final thoughts on the game as the Vikings prepare to take the next step toward the 2016 regular season.
Who's in, who's out?
The third preseason game is traditionally the game in which coaches get the longest look at their regular contributors in preparation for the upcoming season. But no coach would do that at the risk of losing any of those players to injury for an extended period of time. That's why it won't be a surprise to see either the Vikings or Chargers hold out players who missed practice time this week. For that Vikings, that list of players could include LT Matt Kalil, LB Eric Kendricks and CB Xavier Rhodes. If they don't play today, the good news is others will receive the opportunity to play more, such as TJ Clemmings, Audie Cole and both Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander.
Bridgewater expecting to play
Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater was held out of last week's preseason game in Seattle because of a coach's decision. Since that night, questions abound for head coach Mike Zimmer about the reason his starting quarterback didn't play. When asked about it himself earlier this week, Bridgewater wisely deferred the discussion to his head coach but then also stated that he expected to play today against the Chargers.
Will the gates really be open?
The Vikings have used #OpentheGates as a way to market and promote the first game and season in their new home – U.S. Bank Stadium. A distinguishing characteristic of the new stadium is the five large pivoting glass doors, which are the largest in the world and which comprise part of the west end of the building. When the gates are open, it will provide fans with a unique stadium experience. But will the windows (gates) actually be open for this game? No official word as of early game day morning, but it's a question the club will answer before each home game moving forward. With the doors open or not, U.S. Bank Stadium will be a first-class experience for fans.
Special teams can give you some clues
For all those who like to predict which Vikings will be on the team's 53-man roster entering the season, be sure to pay attention to the special teams snaps today. Observing who is on the first-team coverage and return units can offer a glimpse into the thinking of the coaching staff. First of all, special teams production can be a deciding factor in a position or roster battle. Secondly, in the game in which the special teams coaches will get their last long look at their units, they want to use as many of the players who will be on those units in the regular season as possible.