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Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn / USA TODAY Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson runs through drills at training camp on July 25 at Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn.

Vikings ready to turn TCF into a home

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MINNEAPOLIS — Adrian Peterson is looking forward to seeing the locker room. Others on the Vikings have more important quests.

Peterson, the star running back, won’t play in Minnesota’s preseason opener against Oakland tonight at TCF Bank Stadium. That’s where the Vikings will play the next two seasons as they await the opening of a downtown indoor stadium in 2016.

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The only game the Vikings have played at TCF was a 40-14 loss to Chicago on Dec. 20, 2010, a game moved from the Metrodome after the roof collapsed. Peterson sat out that night with knee and ankle injuries, but he enjoyed the digs.

“I know the locker room’s awesome,” Peterson said. “That’s one thing I do remember.”

With the Vikings taking no chances on Peterson possibly getting injured, he will watch with interest tonight as first-year coach Mike Zimmer and many new players take the field as Vikings for the first time.

“It’ll be good to see the young guys out there in some live situations,” Peterson said.

Foremost will be how rookie Teddy Bridgewater looks as he tries to unseat Matt Cassel as the starting quarterback. After Cassel sees some action in the first quarter, Bridgewater is expected to play about two quarters.

Bridgewater, picked up in May with the No. 32 pick in the NFL draft, will get some snaps with the first team. He knows a good first impression can do nothing but help.

“It’s important to maximize the playing time that I get,” Bridgewater said. “It’s important to all of the young guys because right now we’re all just competing and just trying to earn a spot on this roster.”

Zimmer already has said Minnesota’s other first-round draft pick, No. 9 selection Anthony Barr, has a “strong” chance to start at outside linebacker in the Sept. 7 regular-season opener at St. Louis. Still, it will be worth keeping an eye on Barr’s debut.

Another rookie to watch will be running back Jerick McKinnon, battling Matt Asiata for playing time as Peterson’s backup. Both McKinnon and Asiata are expected to get long looks against the Raiders, including McKinnon returning some kickoffs.

Adding additional intrigue will be Minnesota’s players stepping into a stadium they are trying to turn into a home-field advantage. Zimmer talked to his players earlier this week about needing to embrace being at TCF after the Metrodome was demolished during the offseason.

“It’s really about a mind-set and really what we feel like is our advantage,” Zimmer said. “I know there hasn’t been a lot of success (in the NFL) with teams that have gone to other places for interim times, and maybe we’ll be the first.”

The Vikings have talked about trying to really make TCF an advantage when games are played outdoors late in the season in frigid temperatures. For tonight’s game, the temperature at kickoff is forecast to be around 80 degrees.

One issue regarding homefield advantage could be TCF’s seating capacity of just over 52,000, about 12,000 less than the Metrodome held. Still, Vikings linebacker Jasper Brinkley is not concerned.

“I feel like Minnesota has a great fan base,” said Brinkley, who played for the Vikings from 2009-12 before spending last season with Arizona. “Win or lose, the fans are going to be there supporting us. When you have die-hard fans like that, why not give it your all? … Our fans are going to be loud (at TCF). I know they’re going to be.”

Brinkley is one of 10 players on the Vikings roster remaining from the 2010 team, which closed its home season on a 23-degree night against the Bears. Zimmer had tried to schedule a practice at TCF Bank Stadium prior to Friday’s game, but it didn’t work out.

So most of Minnesota’s players never have been to TCF. That includes Cassel, who will be getting his initial look at those highly touted locker rooms along with everything else.

“With our home crowd and our tremendous fan base, I think we’ll definitely be able to turn it into a home stadium, and come Friday, when we get to see that sea of purple out there, it will be a lot of fun for all of us,” Cassel said.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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