KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX (Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick, Charissa Thompson)
LIVE BLOG/CHAT: Click here
SERIES: 13th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead series, 9-3. The Vikings have played this version of the Browns only once, beating Cleveland 24-12 at the Metrodome in November, 2005. Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson connected with wide receiver Marcus Robinson for three touchdowns that day. Those were Robinson's only three catches of the game.
PREDICTION: Vikings 30-19
KEYS TO THE GAME: RB Adrian Peterson will attack a Cleveland defense that allowed 151.9 rushing yards per game last season. New Browns coordinator Rob Ryan needs more out of a pass rush that produced just 17 sacks last season or Minnesota will be in prime position for big plays downfield with QB Brett Favre working off play-action. Cleveland appears set to start QB Brady Quinn, who lacks Derek Anderson's strong arm but manages the offense with better efficiency. Minnesota returns the league's top-ranked run almost entirely intact, so Quinn will need to make plays downfield to sustain drives.
FAST FACTS: Favre is 12 games shy of former Vikings DE Jim Marshall's NFL record of 284 consecutive games played by a non-kicker or punter. ... Browns WR Braylon Edwards led the NFL with 16 dropped passes last season.
--WR Bernard Berrian was limited in practice for a second consecutive day because of a hamstring injury he suffered in the Vikings' preseason opener against Indianapolis. His status for Sunday's game in Cleveland is not certain.
--WR Percy Harvin is expected to open the season as the Vikings' primary kickoff return man. Harvin averaged 26.3 yards on four kickoff returns this preseason.
--LB E.J. Henderson, who suffered a foot injury early last year that ended his season, will resume making the defensive calls now that he has returned.
--LB Erin Henderson (calf) did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday and is expected to be sidelined for about a month after being injured in the Vikings' preseason finale last Friday against Dallas.
--TE Jim Kleinsasser was limited in practice for a second consecutive day because of a hand injury he suffered in the Vikings' preseason opener against Indianapolis. His status for Sunday's game in Cleveland is not certain.
--RB Adrian Peterson said he expects to play more often on third down this season. It will be interesting to see how much more Peterson plays in that situation given how effective veteran Chester Taylor has been on that down for the past two seasons.
--NT Shaun Rogers was limited in practice Thursday, but he showed quickness tracking down the quarterback.
--RB Jerome Harrison is trying to beat the clock and play against the Vikings. He has been slowed by a knee injury since the first week of preseason.
--LB Alex Hall has a sore shoulder, but it did not prevent him from practicing on a limited basis Thursday.
--TE Steve Heiden has been practicing on a limited basis. He's trying to make it to the opener after undergoing major knee surgery in December.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
A week after agreeing to have his salary sliced in half, Bobby Wade found himself cut out of the Vikings' plans entirely.
The wide receiver was released by the team on Thursday and veteran Greg Lewis was signed to take his spot. Lewis had been let go by New England earlier in the week after being traded to the Patriots by the Philadelphia Eagles in March.
Wade, who led the Vikings in receptions in each of his two seasons with the team, ended up being let go in large part because first-round pick Percy Harvin was going to take much of his playing time as the Vikings' primary slot receiver.
Wade can play other receiver spots but isn't nearly as effective as he is in the slot. Lewis has 127 catches for 1,699 yards and seven touchdowns in six seasons.
"I just think at the end of the day we look at it and just felt like it made us better," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "I'm appreciative of everything (Wade has) done for us here the last couple of years. But we felt like we had a chance to make ourselves better with Greg. I have some background with him. I think he'll be able to come in here and get up to speed relatively quickly."
The Vikings also save money by cutting Wade. Instead of having to pay him his entire salary for the 2009 season, they will only owe him a game check ($88,235) for Week 1.
Lewis, 29, was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2003 by the Eagles out of Illinois. His best season came in 2005 when he started all 16 games, catching 48 passes for 561 yards and one touchdown. Childress was the Eagles offensive coordinator during that time.
"When I came into the league as a rookie free agent, I was making plays at Philadelphia," he said. "After one of the minicamps Coach Childress came up to me and said, 'Just keep doing what you're doing. You can play and you're going to get an opportunity.' That was the first coach that really gave me an opportunity and I felt had confidence in me to go out and do some things. To be back with him is a blessing for me."
Rumors the Browns would release 30-year-old Jamal Lewis to help them get to the magic final roster number of 53 players spread last week as rosters were being reduced around the league.
Far from being released, Lewis will be the starting running back when the Browns open the season Sunday at home against the Minnesota Vikings. Lewis hit the magic age of 30 the last week of August. He is eager to prove those who think he is finished wrong.
"Turning 30 is what everybody's been talking about," Lewis said. "Now I'm actually 30 -- not 29 or 28. I'm actually 30.
"I've been answering (age) questions for five years. I'm still kicking, still out here running and competing and doing my job and trying to help this team. One of my goals was to play for 10 years and here I am."
Running backs like Lewis say they get better as the game wears on. Even at 30 years old, Lewis is talking about 25 or 30 carries a game. Last year he carried 25 times only once. He exceeded 25 carries three times in 2007 with a high of 33. That year he had 298 rushes for 1,304 yards, the most by a Browns runner since Jim Brown rushed for 1,554 yards in 1965. In 2003 Lewis carried 387 times when he rushed for 2,066 yards with the Ravens.
Lewis has carried the ball 2,399 times over a career that began in Baltimore in 2000, the year the Ravens won the Super Bowl. He missed all of 2001 with a knee injury, so over eight active seasons he has averaged 300 carries.
"Offenses have evolved," Lewis said. "We have an offense where we don't really have to do that. Being I'm smarter and wiser now, whatever I can get I try to make the best happen with those opportunities.
"I think coaches do have in mind how many carries they want their back to get over a season because they don't want to break them down."
Lewis rushed for 1,002 yards last season and then had offseason ankle surgery. He rehabbed slowly through the minicamps so he would be ready for training camp.
Rookie James Davis, 5-foot-11, 218 pounds, is a tantalizing change of pace to Lewis. Lewis, 5-11, 245 pounds, has been helping Davis in training camp. They are both from Atlanta and coincidentally both went to Frederick Douglass High School there. They worked out together after the Browns drafted Davis in the sixth round in April.