LINING UP: Winston debuts, Texans host 49ers in preseason
The Associated Press
Aug. 14, 2015
A look at what to expect in Saturday night's NFL preseason games (all times EDT):
BUCCANEERS AT VIKINGS, 8 p.m.
Plenty of attention will be on Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston, the top pick in the draft from Florida State, in his first NFL action. Coach Lovie Smith said he's planning to play his starters for at least the first quarter, so Winston ought to get a couple of series throwing to Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins against a Minnesota defense that's been noticeably better under coach Mike Zimmer.
Even Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said he was "extremely excited" for Winston about his debut.
"I know that he's excited, and I wish him the best," Bridgewater said.
After beating the Steelers in the Hall of Fame game, the Vikings are still evaluating starter candidates at middle linebacker and strong safety, with the competition expected to last all month.
The Buccaneers' defense, supervised by former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, has added several new starters, though safety Chris Conte won't play because of injury.
49ERS AT TEXANS, 8 p.m.
Texans coach Bill O'Brien won't say who will start at quarterback when his team hosts the San Francisco 49ers. Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett are competing for the job and O'Brien has said that the two are pretty even as they enter the first preseason game. Both players spent time with O'Brien when he was an assistant in New England when the two were backups to Tom Brady; they are very familiar with his system.
The Texans will also get a good look at second-year running back Alfred Blue, who will likely take over as starter while Arian Foster is out after groin surgery.
The focus for the 49ers will be defense, where linebacker NaVorro Bowman could play his first game since injuring his left knee in the NFC title game in January 2014. San Francisco is looking to fill many holes after departures of such stars as Frank Gore, Patrick Willis and Justin Smith.
CHIEFS AT CARDINALS, 9 p.m.
Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer will take a snap in a game for the first time since tearing his ACL on Nov. 9.
But he won't play much. Coach Bruce Arians says Palmer will play in one series, whether it's one play or 10 plays. Palmer has been sharp in practice. The Cardinals will be without wide receiver Michael Floyd, who dislocated three fingers in practice this week. Floyd is hopeful he will be ready for the Sept. 13 season opener against New Orleans.
Starting running back Andre Ellington also will play after missing nearly all of training camp with a hamstring injury. His backup, rookie David Johnson, won't play. He's been out with a hamstring injury since Day 2 of camp.
Quarterback Alex Smith and the rest of the Chiefs' first unit are expected to play the first quarter. Backup Chase Daniel and the second-stringers will play in the second quarter and into the third. Aaron Murray will finish the game for Kansas City.
Chiefs first-round draft pick Marcus Peters could start the season at cornerback because Sean Smith is suspended for the first three games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
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