While most teams use the third preseason game to give their starters an extended look, the San Diego Chargers are going to sit quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates tonight.
San Diego head coach Norv Turner announced the moves Thursday night, saying because the team's offensive line is missing three starters, he felt it was more important to protect his starting quarterback and the offensive line deficiencies put Rivers at risk against the Vikings. Charlie Whitehurst will start in his place.
The decision was based on a couple factors. Turner has made comments during training camp about concerns over Rivers' health, and with left tackle Jared Gaither (back), guard Tyronne Green (foot) and center Nick Hardwick (concussion) all out for tonight's game, the decision was made to sit Rivers and not risk potential injuries.
Turner said Rivers doesn't need to play in the preseason in order to be ready for the regular season opener Sept. 10 at Oakland.
"Philip would be ready to play if we didn't play him again in the preseason," Turner said. "He's played an awful lot of football. We're going to do everything we can to get this team ready to play and that's what our plan is throughout the preseason."
Hardwick and Gaither are expected to be replaced by a pair of rookies. Undrafted Michael Harris is slated to start at left tackle opposite Jared Allen and seventh-round rookie David Molk is scheduled to start at center opposite Fred Evans.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.