CANTON, Ohio (AP) – The guys in the freshly minted gold jackets roaming the sideline during Sunday night’s Hall of Fame game will be the latest member of the NFL’s Who’s Who.
The guys on the field for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings will be more Who’s That?
Adrian Peterson? Nope, not this week. Ben Roethlisberger? Antonio Brown? Probably not. James Harrison’s 37-year-old legs will get the night off, too.
The marquee names the Steelers and Vikings hope will carry them into a promising 2015 get the night off, along with Jerome Bettis and the rest of the Hall of Fame class enshrined on Saturday night.
Given an extra exhibition game to prepare for what awaits in September, Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin will use it to get extended looks at the reserves on their 90-man rosters.
No pressure Landry Jones.
The all-time leading passer in Oklahoma history spent the first two years on the inactive list behind Roethlisberger and Bruce Gradkowski. With Roethlisberger signed up through the rest of the decade and Gradkowski locked in as the primary backup, Jones will try to convince the coaching staff he’s work keeping for at least one more season. Failing that, Jones hopes to do enough to impress someone else should he need a landing spot when camp ends.
Jones’ preference would be to stick around, and Pittsburgh likes to keep three quarterbacks on the roster. Still, there is plenty of competition. Tajh Boyd is hoping to catch on after spending last year playing for a minor league while quarterbacks/wide receivers Tyler Murphy and Devin Gardner have allowed Tomlin to experiment with different formations and packages during camp.
While Tomlin believes Jones is on a “steady incline” he’s holding off on making any real endorsements until he sees how Jones performs with the lights on. That’s fine by Jones.
“You can have the best practice in the world, but if it doesn’t transfer over to the field it really doesn’t matter,” Jones said. “It’s nice to have these good practices come up here and play well, but if it doesn’t correlate over to the game that’s a whole other ball game.”
Some other things to look for ahead of the long road to the Super Bowl in California.
This will mark Peterson’s first time in a purple Vikings jersey since the season opener Sept. 7. He was later involved in a child abuse case that played out in court.
The Vikings don’t plan to play Peterson in any of the exhibition games, per their past practice. He used to lobby for game time in August, but at this point in his career he’s at OK with the plan.
“I’ve been here for a long time now. I’ve kind of outgrown wanting to play in the preseason,” Peterson said. “It really doesn’t matter. Throw all your marbles out there when it really counts.”
THIS BUD’S FOR YOU
The Steelers took Bud Dupree in the first round of the draft hoping the raw but talented linebacker could restore some menace to a pass rush that’s been a pushover in recent years. Dupree will get a chance to show what he’s learned over the last three months after a solid if not spectacular start to camp.
“I’m just ready to go out there and actually hit the quarterback,” Dupree said.
Dupree should see plenty of action, as will fellow draft picks in cornerback Doran Grant, wide receiver Sammie Coates and tight end Jesse James.
“All I’m trying to do to make sure my eyes are right and to make sure my technique is right,” Grant said.
Wide receiver Mike Wallace will make his Vikings debut against a fitting opponent in the Steelers, the team that drafted him in the third round out of Mississippi in 2009. Wallace, who was acquired in a trade from Miami after some underwhelming seasons with the Dolphins, has drawn rave reviews from his new team so far for his hustle and, of course, his speed. But the Vikings would like to use him on a variety of routes rather than the deep ones that are his specialty.
“We’ve moved him around a lot, and he’s very, very smart,” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. “Obviously, he’s very experienced and there are some routes he really, really runs well that are underneath routes. I’ve been very impressed with him. Obviously, he can stretch the field and go deep. But I think he’s a guy that we can use in a lot of different ways.”
AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
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