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"Chucky" is back on the sideline at the Coliseum.
Jon Gruden makes his return for the Oakland Raiders when they host the Detroit Lions in their exhibition debut on Friday night.
Gruden last coached a home contest in Oakland on Jan. 12 Riley Sutter Capitals Jersey , 2001, when the Raiders beat the Jets 38-24 in a playoff game. Oakland lost the "Tuck Rule" game in New England the following week and Gruden was traded to Tampa Bay after the season, where he won the 2002 NFL title.
Now he's back for a second stint in Oakland after spending the past nine seasons as a TV analyst for ESPN.
"I'm looking forward to it bigtime," he said. "I've got some things obviously I've got to work out. So I've got to work myself through calling plays again and managing some tough situations. I'm anxious to see if I can do it."
The game also marks the debut for new Lions coach Matt Patricia, hired this offseason after a highly successful stint as defensive coordinator for New England.
The Lions will leave starters in just long enough to break a sweat before backups compete for spots on the roster. The Lions' third-string quarterback, Jake Rudock, will have a lot to play for. Rudock made the team as a rookie last year, but veteran Matt Cassel was signed to be Matthew Stafford's backup. Patricia may choose to keep two quarterbacks. Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson will have a chance to make an impression and perhaps push veteran LeGarrette Blount for a starting spot.
Elsewhere on Friday night: the Atlanta Falcons travel to face the New York Jets.
And Saturday, the Minnesota Vikings meet the Denver Broncos, while the Chargers head to the desert to meet the Arizona Cardinals to finish off the first full weekend of preseason games.
LEARNING TO FLY
Falcons coach Dan Quinn will make sure rookies get their chance at playing time right off the bat Friday.
With that in mind, Quinn said he hopes to play all four quarterbacks, with starter Matt Ryan and backup Matt Schaub playing early. Rookie Kurt Benkert and Garrett Grayson, who played on the practice squad in 2017, will follow the veterans.
"You want to make sure that a guy doesn't run out of time Cheap Customized New York Jets Jerseys , where he didn't get enough turns or looks," Quinn said. "So one of the things that we're really committed to is playing the rookies and the first-year guys. If you look back in our history, our play time for the preseason would show that."
An Atlanta rookie to watch is running back Ito Smith, competing for the No. 3 job behind Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
Sam Darnold will make his NFL debut for the Jets and the rookie could make a strong case for winning the job with a solid performance. The No. 3 overall pick out of USC is competing with Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater to be the starter, but Darnold will be given every opportunity this preseason to come out on top.
"First NFL game, going out there and being really emotional is something I'm looking forward to," Darnold said. "At the same time, I realize I have to be smart in all my decisions and sound with everything.
"Yeah, I'm probably going to be a little emotional 鈥?not emotional as in like crying or anything like that 鈥?but it's definitely going to be awesome to be out there first NFL game. I'm also going to be aware of every situation and everything that is going on."
Darnold has impressed his coaches and teammates with how quickly he has been able to process the offense. While he has been up and down at practice since ending a three-day camp holdout last week, the former USC star has certainly flashed the skills that made him so coveted.
The Vikings-Broncos matchup Saturday night features more intrigue than the typical preseason opener.
Denver QB Case Keenum gets to face his former teammates whom he helped reach the NFC championship game before management dumped him in favor of Kirk Cousins, the jewel of this winter's free agent class.
Keenum said this week he's eager to face the Vikings.
"Definitely. I mean, I got a firsthand view of how good a defense it is, so I know we've got our work cut out for us. It's going to be a great test. I'm excited to go compete against a really, really talented defense Authentic Geron Christian Jersey ," Keenum said.
Keenum went 12-4 for the Vikings last season after injuries to Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater, but Minnesota moved on in the offseason, winning the Cousins sweepstakes with, among other things, a strong roster, a sparkling new stadium and a fully guaranteed contract for $84 million over three years.
Keenum signed a two-year, $36 million deal in Denver.
Many stars won't play when the Chargers visit the Cardinals, but the youngsters getting plenty of playing time are likely to include Arizona quarterback Josh Rosen and Los Angeles linebacker Uchenna Nwosu.
The LA-area natives know plenty about each other after spending the past three years in crosstown competition, with Rosen at UCLA and Nwosu at USC.
"I'm looking forward to seeing him again," Nwosu said with a grin. "I'll give him a nice hug, like I did in college."
Coach Steve Wilks, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and quarterback Sam Bradford will make their Cardinals debuts.
Do not expect Bradford or running back David Johnson, back from a season-ending wrist injury suffered in Game 1 of the 2017 season, to make much more than token appearances.
The Cardinals' preseason focus will be on identifying a wide receiver group behind Larry Fitzgerald Adidas P.K Subban Jersey , sorting out the running backs behind Johnson, and securing the cornerback spot opposite Patrick Peterson.
"It's been great," Johnson said of the new offensive scheme. "Mike McCoy really knows how to bring out everyone's strengths."
One bad inning seems to spoil every Michael Fulmer start.
The Detroit Tigers right-hander can look overpowering most of the time, but the opposition catches up to him at some point.
In Cincinnati three starts ago, he dominated for five innings before giving up two home runs in the sixth.
Against Oakland in his next outing, he lasted eight innings but gave up three runs in the third. Facing the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, Fulmer tossed four scoreless innings but allowed three runs in the fifth.
He wound up with two losses and a no-decision in those starts. He’ll try to break the habit in the finale of a four-game series against the Texas Rangers on Sunday afternoon.
“Overall, it’s just kind of eliminating that one big inning,” Fulmer said of his struggles. “I feel like that’s what it is every start. If I can just keep the crooked numbers off the scoreboard every inning and just try to put up zeroes the best I can, the results will come eventually. I know I’ve been saying that for a while, but I feel like we’re close and I’m still happy with my stuff right now.”
Fulmer (3-7, 4.22 ERA) has posted one victory in his last seven outings. Run support has been spotty at best for him this season — he has given up two or fewer runs in eight starts — but he’d rather make things easier on his team.
“I feel like any given start, it just needs one complete game and we’re going to turn the corner,” he said. “Everything else feels good. I feel healthy Authentic John Kelly Jersey , I feel strong and you can see that by the way I’m executing my pitches.”
Fulmer is 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA in three career starts against the Rangers. He can take inspiration from Jordan Zimmermann’s performance Friday after the veteran right-hander limited Texas to one run in eight innings and struck out 11.
“His command (Friday) was impeccable,” Fulmer said. “The biggest key for myself is trying to command the ball a little better.”
Detroit got another strong start Saturday from Mike Fiers, who gave up one run in six innings of the Tigers’ 7-1 win.
Right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx (1-2, 4.40) will oppose Fulmer. He has made three starts since being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock.
Bibens-Dirkx gave up five runs in six innings against Houston in his last start, but it could have been worse. All the runs came in the first three innings, but he settled down and retired nine of the last 12 batters he faced.
This will be Bibens-Dirkx’s first career start against the Tigers, but he tossed 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief last season. He’s 4-1 with a 3.81 ERA in 14 road appearances (five starts) since making his major league debut as a 32-year-old last season.
Texas designated hitter Shin-Shoo Choo can establish a franchise on-base record Sunday. He tied Julio Franco’s 1993 mark by reaching base for the 46th consecutive game Saturday.
He had two doubles after homering Friday despite dealing with a quad injury.
“Very impressive what Choo’s doing,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Any time a player is battling through some nagging things and continuing to go out and perform is highly impressive. He’s a tremendous player. For me, it’s not just the on-base (streak), it’s how he’s playing, how he’s swinging the bat, the power, the extra-base hits and the walks.”