Jim Souhan
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The Star Tribune sports team in Los Angeles today: Ben Goessling, Andrew Krammer, Mark Craig, photog Carlos Gonzalez and myself.

We’re in the open-air press box at ROKiT Field for the Vikings-=Chargers game.

First, my condolences to anyone who knew Doug Woog. He was highly successful, and he was kind and generous to me and everyone I know.

On to football.

I’ve never been in an NFL stadium like this. It’s small, quaint and surrounded by palm trees. It feels far more like a spring training venue than the site of an NFL game.

It’s sunny, but the locals think 60 degrees is freezing. We passed a security guard wearing a hooded parka.

It’s a beautiful, sunny, day, and this might be the easiest time I’ve ever had getting into an NFL venue. Our hotel is six miles away and it took us 15 minutes, no traffic, no trouble parking or getting in. This is not Philadelphia.

As far as the game, this is a strange and dangerous matchup. The Chargers are the rare team that actually is better than their record indicates. They’ve won big and lost close, and they seem to have fixed their red zone problems of late.

The Vikings getting Adam Thielen back should be important, but what I’m watching for today are these two big things:

  1. How do the Vikings’ cornerbacks hold up against the Chargers’ big, deep receiving corps and a quarterback who loves to sling it?

  2. How well can Dalvin Cook perform with an injury to the collarbone area?

The Vikings have lots of draft picks and dollars invested in the cornerback position, and Rivers is going to attack them today. If they get beat, the Chargers probably win. If they make big plays, the Vikings probably win.

As for Cook, he’s obviously playing in pain, and has even admitted that he has had to land differently to protect the injury. With Alexander Mattison out, Cook is even more important.

Here’s my piece from the Sunday paper on the Vikings’ historical struggles on grass, since they moved out of Met Stadium: http://www.startribune.com/the-sod-truth-vikings-struggle-on-grass-playing-surfaces/566212712/

You can hear my podcasts, including one with former Vikings GM Jeff Diamond, at TalkNorth.com

@Souhanstrib