MINNEAPOLIS — Vikings players won’t be running alongside fire-spouting machines when they take the field Sunday, Sept. 22.
The NFL on Friday announced a temporary ban on flame effects and pyrotechnics used on the field. The move was made after a pyrotechnic machine on the field last Sunday at Tennessee caught fire in a pregame ceremony. There were no injuries.
Since the opening of U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016, Vikings players have run out of a Viking ship before games while flames and smoke shoot out of machines. The spectacle will have to be altered for the game against Oakland.
“The moratorium, which will remain in effect as the league reviews the matter, will impact the Vikings pregame entertainment elements this Sunday,’’ the Vikings wrote in a statement. “The team is exploring other special effects options, but fans heading to the game against the Raiders will notice changes. The moratorium will not impact pyrotechnics used off the field (i.e. along the roof of U.S. Bank Stadium).’’
Defensive end Stephen Weatherly said some players on other teams have told him the Vikings have the best introductions in the NFL.
“It takes away from it,’’ Weatherly said of the temporary ban. “(The introductions are) part of the fun, but we’ll make up for it. Our fans will still be into it.’’
Defensive end Danielle Hunter said the introductions are exciting, and he hopes the moratorium won’t last long.
“They’re pretty cool,’’ Hunter said. “It makes it seem like you’re about to go to battle or something.’’
As for Sunday, linebacker Anthony Barr isn’t too worried about the moratorium affecting much.
“If we need that to get ourselves fired up, we probably shouldn’t be playing,’’ Barr said. “I think it will be OK.’’
Smith eyes first TD
It’s a good thing Vikings rookie tight end Irv Smith wasn’t planning to save the ball from his first NFL reception.
Smith’s first and his only NFL catch so far came last Sunday at Green Bay. He lost one yard.
Smith said Friday he had planned before the season to hold onto a ball from a different first.
“I want to save the ball for my first touchdown,’’ he said. “I want it to be a big play, something that I can remember and cherish.’’
Smith, a second-round pick from Alabama, said he isn’t concerned about having just one reception on two targets in his first two games.
“It’s still super early in the season,’’ he said. “We still have 14 more games. I know my time will be coming soon.’’
Vikings tight ends have just six catches so far. Kyle Rudolph has five of them.
“I feel like our run game has been doing very well, so that’s only going to open it up for the tight ends,’’ Smith said. “I feel like we’re going to have a big game coming up and a big season, so we’re excited.’’
Jon Gruden, in his second season as Raiders coach after nine years as an ESPN analyst, will face Minnesota for the first time since 2008, when he was Tampa Bay’s coach and the Buccaneers won 19-13 at home. Gruden has a 4-0 mark against the Vikings. He went 1-0 against them when he was Oakland’s coach from 1998-2001 and 3-0 during his 2002-08 stint with Tampa Bay.
Before the Raiders selected running back Josh Jacobs with the No. 24 pick in first round last April, Gruden said they took a hard look at Alexander Mattison, who eventually went in the third round to Minnesota. “We liked him,’’ Gruden said of Mattison, who has rushed for 74 yards as Dalvin Cook’s backup. “He can really catch the ball. … When he gets in the game, they don’t have any dropoff.’’
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, passed over by the Vikings when they took quarterback Teddy Bridgewater with the No. 32 pick in the first round of the 2014 draft, will face Minnesota for the second time. Carr, taken in the second round in 2014, completed 29 of 43 passes for 302 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in Minnesota’s 30-14 win at Oakland on Nov. 15, 2015. That was the last time the teams met.