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The Skinny Post: Vikings Ready to Debut U.S. Bank Stadium

It's time to **Open The Gates**.

The Vikings will play their first-ever football game inside U.S. Bank Stadium at noon (CT) Sunday when they host the San Diego Chargers.

Minnesota is 2-0 in the preseason after notching road wins over Cincinnati and Seattle.

Sunday's tilt against the Chargers is a rematch of the Vikings 31-14 win in Week 3 of last season.

Minnesota's defense swarmed Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers that September day, sacking him four times and registering 13 quarterback hits.

San Diego is 1-1 this preseason, with a road loss at Tennessee and a home win against Arizona.

On the airwaves: The game will be broadcast nationally by FOX (KMSP FOX 9 in the Twin Cities). Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch and Pam Oliver will be on the call. The game also will be broadcast on KFAN 100.3-FM and across the Minnesota Vikings Radio Network by the team of Paul Allen, Pete Bercich, Greg Coleman and Ben Leber.

Three things to watch:

Firsts of many*Eric Smith*

When the Vikings held Friday's practice at U.S. Bank Stadium, the phrase 'Be The First' was one of several Mike Zimmer-isms displayed on the ribbon board.

It raised the intriguing question of which Vikings players will be among the firsts to eclipse benchmarks in the new venue.

Who will be the first player to touch the ball? It won't be Adrian Peterson, who said Thursday he'll first get involved in front of the home crowd against Green Bay on Sept. 18.

Cordarrelle Patterson said he wouldn’t mind a return of the opening kickoff. If the kickoff is a touchback, then the initial honor might go to John Sullivan or Joe Berger at the center position.

But what if the Vikings start on defense? Perhaps Harrison Smith gets an interception or Everson Griffen comes up with a strip sack. Or maybe even Marcus Sherels on a punt return.

A more lofty achievement would be the first player to score in the new venue. A number of offensive players could be in the running including Jerick McKinnon, Kyle Rudolph or Stefon Diggs.

Sunday's game will be one of firsts. For players, for coaches and for fans, as U.S. Bank Stadium starts creating its own memories going forward.

1s against the 1s*Lindsey Young*

Sunday will be an interesting game to watch for a number of reasons, but one that stands out is how many reps the first-team units will get against each other. The third preseason game tends to be the contest in which select starters get more reps, and it will be intriguing to see which players Zimmer has on the field and for how long.

In the Vikings practice at U.S. Bank Stadium Friday, Sullivan lined up with the ones and Berger the twos. Zimmer said he and the coaching staff will continue evaluating in the time they have before the regular season. Preseason game or not, however, Sunday will most likely have a regular-season feel.

"I think Sunday's going to be exciting," Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner said earlier this week. "It's going to be as close to a regular season game atmosphere as you can get without obviously being a regular season game. It's a warmup for everybody."

Another rush?*Craig Peters*

The Vikings were able to **significantly pressure** Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in a variety of ways last week, sacking him four times in the first half. That was on the road, with the defense not having the benefit of crowd noise.

How will a unit that had extreme success against Rivers last season fare this year, especially if a rambunctious crowd prompts the Chargers to use silent snap counts?

Zimmer isn't likely to get too exotic in an exhibition, but the Vikings have several skilled players ready to take rushes at Rivers.

Substantial Stats

— San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers threw for a career-high 4,792 yards last season. He had the most yards in the AFC and the second-most in the NFL.

— The Chargers haven't had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2013, when Ryan Mathews ran for 1,255 yards.

— Minnesota and San Diego each have six regular-season wins against each other. The Chargers won the first matchup in 1971 and the teams have alternated wins and losses ever since.

— Although Peterson won't play against San Diego, he had the most memorable game of his NFL career against the Chargers in 2007. In just the eighth game of his career, Peterson ran for an NFL-record 296 yards against San Diego, which was then coached by Turner.


"Great atmosphere, a lot of purple. It's good." — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer on his reaction to U.S. Bank Stadium after Friday's practice inside the new venue.

Worth a watch

Griffen, Adam Thielen, Sharrif Floyd and Alex Boone, Teddy Bridgewater, Rudolph and Sullivan talked about what they are expecting and the excitement they have for being part of U.S. Bank Stadium's debut in this video:

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