A look at Friday’s NFL preseason matchups:
BACK IN CINCY
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer returns to Cincinnati, where he made his reputation as a defensive coordinator before being hired in Minnesota in 2014. Last season, Zimmer led the Vikings to the NFC North title.
“It brings back a lot of good memories,” Zimmer says. “We had a good run. Mike Brown was really good to me and, obviously, Marvin (Lewis) and a lot of the players that I coached. It’ll be fun. It’ll be fun to bring my team in here, trying to compete with them.”
Zimmer notes how working for the Bengals prepared him for head coaching.
“I think (in) a lot of different ways,” he says. “I got a chance to see how Marvin does things, how he treats people, the way he earns respect. When I left Atlanta — I was there for three-quarters of a year or whatever — but, coming (to Cincinnati) and being able to resurrect my career a little bit. I think that helped a lot, (plus) being able to get some good players in here.”
NO CANCELLATION THIS TIME
Green Bay was supposed to have already looked at rookies, undrafted players, fringe free agents and other players in last Sunday’s Hall of Fame game. Then the game was called off because of poor field conditions.
Lambeau Field shouldn’t have any such issues when the Browns visit the Packers. Indeed, the Packers won’t be painting anything in preparation for Cleveland’s visit, or until they get the iconic stadium ready for the regular season.
SHOW ME SOME OFFENSE
New Dolphins coach Adam Gase, an offensive mastermind, was more than a little disturbed by the ineptitude of his offense in last Saturday’s scrimmage. He’s a bit more optimistic about Friday night’s visit to the New York Giants after a few days of working on the problems.
“Yes. I feel light years better,” Gase says. “We needed to go through that. We needed to see what happens when just about everything possible could have gone wrong. Somebody screwed up on every play. It was like second-and-20 and then we were third-and-17. That probably needed to happen. I think guys just kind of took a step back and realized it’s about just doing my job and then things will work out. The more guys we have doing that, the better chance we have.”
Fresh with a contract extension that should carry him through the rest of his career, 36-year-old QB Carson Palmer will handle about a dozen plays when Arizona hosts Oakland.
“I’ve been playing my whole career,” Palmer says, “to be in a situation like this and play for an owner (Michael Bidwill) like this and a GM (Steve Keim) like this.”
Palmer led the Cardinals to the NFC title game, where he struggled in a rout at the hands of the Carolina. Naturally, he’s looking ahead.
“It’s a dream situation,” Palmer says, “having the opportunity to play for a head coach like Bruce (Arians), but also a play caller like Bruce. Michael’s given everybody in the locker room everything you could possibly need to go out and just focus on football and play good football.”
SIT OR PLAY
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said he’d like to play all his healthy players in the preseason opener at Arizona. Whether rookie safety Karl Joseph qualifies as healthy remains to be seen.
Joseph has been practicing with the starters since the start of training camp but has gotten occasional time off as the team wants to make sure his surgically repaired right knee is completely healthy; it forced him to miss the end of his final college season at West Virginia. The Raiders were confident enough in Joseph’s health to draft him in the first round and have been pleased with his play in camp, including an end zone interception against Derek Carr in practice this week. But they see no need to rush him into game action.
“The goal is to be ready for Sundays,” Joseph said. “I definitely would like to get some preseason action. But it’s going to be a day-to-day thing to see how the knee’s feeling.”
During the Steelers’ scrimmages against the Lions this week heading toward the preseason game in Pittsburgh, All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown often had his way against Detroit cornerback Darius Slay.
So much so that Brown couldn’t help bragging about it.
At one point during 7-on-7 drills, Brown yelled to the Steelers sideline: “I’m killing him.” The league’s leading pass catcher in 2015 also told Slay he’d be “going deep all day,” and then made good on the promise with a long TD catch.
That matchup isn’t likely to be seen Friday night because Brown, Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell, the stalwarts of Pittsburgh’s offense, figure to sit it out. But even one play against Brown could be too much for Slay.
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