We already knew the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers would open the NFL preseason game with the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 9, but the rest of the preseason schedule was announced Thursday.
After playing the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, the Vikings will have two home games – against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders – then travel to the Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans to close out the preseason.
The game against the Bucs the weekend of Aug. 13-17 could see them face Jameis Winston if he ends up being the Bucs’ first overall draft pick. It will be the first time the Vikings have faced the Bucs in the preseason, and it will also feature former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier’s return to Minnesota. There will be a couple of former NFC North players that the Vikings are familiar with on the Bucs – former Chicago Bears safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright, and defensive tackle Henry Melton.
After that, their game against the Raiders on the weekend of Aug. 20-24 will see them face Christian Ponder, who signed with Oakland as a free agent in the offseason, and former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Derek Carr, who was drafted after Teddy Bridgewater in 2014, is the Raiders’ starter, so even that will provide an interesting dynamic of starting quarterbacks, who will likely play a few series to start that preseason game. The Raiders will also have a new look with Rodney Hudson at center and Trent Richardson at running back.
Their road game against Dallas on the weekend of Aug. 27-30 would be even more interesting if Adrian Peterson was traded there. Peterson hasn’t played in preseason games lately, but after being forced to take the final 15 weeks of the 2014 regular season off, he likely will be anxious to get some preseason action no matter where he is playing. The Cowboys have already signed former Vikings linebacker Jasper Brinkley and added impact defensive end Greg Hardy.
The third full preseason weekend is also when the starters typically play into the third quarter, which will offer the Vikings a good chance to test their new players against an NFC playoff-caliber team.
The preseason concludes the weekend of Sept. 3-4, when the Vikings travel to Tennessee. The Titans signed several impact players on defense in free agency, including CB Perrish Cox, linebackers Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo, and safety Da’Norris Searcy.
The Hall of Fame Game to kick off the preseason will take place in Canton, Ohio, one day after former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff and former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the 2015 class of inductees that also includes WR Tim Brown, DE Charles Haley, LB Junior Seau, G Will Shields and general managers Bill Polian and Ron Wolf. That game will be broadcast on NBC and on radio by Westwood One Sports.
That will be the only nationally televised preseason game for the Vikings.
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