As both teams rest their star offensive players, the San Diego Chargers hit the road to take on the Minnesota Vikings Friday night at Mall of America Field.
The preseason action begins at 8pm eastern time, and you can watch streaming online here.
San Diego eyes its third straight preseason victory after beating the Dallas Cowboys 28-20 last week. The Chargers were down 10-0 after the first half thanks to two picks from quarterback Philip Rivers.
Back-up quarterback Charlie Whitehurst led the rally in the second half. He went 7-for-12 for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Reserve running back Jackie Battle and fullback Jacob Hester also scored a pair of touchdowns to clinch the victory.
San Diego will rest Rivers and versatile tight end Antonio Gates Friday. The decision to rest Rivers stems from the health of the Chargers offensive line. Starting center Nick Hardwick, offensive tackle Jared Gaither, and offensive guard Tyronne Green are all suffering with injuries.
Gates has a checkered injury history, missing nine games over the past two seasons. The last time Gates played a full season without injuries was 2009, when he amassed 79 receptions for 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Vikings are in the same boat as San Diego. Running back Adrian Peterson, who blew out his knee last season, has been ruled out for the rest of the preseason. Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier said Peterson is ahead of schedule with his rehab, but wants to make sure the former Oklahoma standout is completely healthy.
Still Minnesota kept its running game moving in its 36-14 win over the Buffalo Bills last week. Reserve running back Toby Gerhart and fullback Matt Asiata combined for 77 yards on 13 carries, and second-string quarterback Joe Webb contributed 64 yards on two carries.
It was a strong all-around game for the Vikings, who saw rookie linebacker Audie Cole pick-off two passes and return them for touchdowns, and quarterback Christian Ponder went 10-for-13 with 136 yards and a touchdown.
Cole's performance means he could take linebacker Jasper Brinkley's roster spot. Brinkley is coming off a hip injury that kept him out of the entire 2011 season.
Prediction: Whitehurst showed he is a capable back-up against the Cowboys, and San Diego can still run the ball even without injured tailback Ryan Matthews. The Vikings' reserves showed just as much tenacity against Buffalo. This should be a close game with many players vying for roster spots.
Predicted Score: Minnesota 27, San Diego 24