The Los Angeles Rams will face the Minnesota Vikings Thursday evening in the first NFL regular-season weekday night game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since 1985.
The Coliseum’s previous NFL tenant, the Los Angeles Raiders, played 15 consecutive Monday night games on the road and two Thursday night games from 1986 though 1994, their final season in Los Angeles, on the road because of fear of crime in and around the Coliseum.
Thursday evening’s game marks the start of Fox Broadcasting’s 11-game Thursday night package. The games will be simulcast on the NFL Network and streamed by Amazon Prime Video.
The Rams (3-0) are off to their best start since 2001 when they won their first six games en route to their most recent Super Bowl berth. They are among the league’s three undefeated teams, along with the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins.
Minnesota (1-1-1) will try to rebound from a 27-6 loss to the previously winless Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
The Rams will be without cornerback Aqib Talib, who was placed on injured/reserve Wednesday and is scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday to repair an ankle injury sustained in Sunday’s 35-23 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Rams’ other starting cornerback, Marcus Peters, is listed as questionable because of a calf injury.
Cornerback Dominique Hatfield was promoted from the practice squad to take Talib’s spot on the roster. Hatfield made five tackles in 11 games in 2017, and was among 11 players cut on Sept. 1 as the Rams reduced the roster to the 53-player regular-season limit.
Rams receiver-returner JoJo Natson will miss the game because of a broken hand sustained Sunday.
Natson was signed Sept. 12 after receiver Pharoh Cooper, a 2017 Pro Bowl selection as a kick returner, was placed on injured/reserve because of an ankle injury.
Natson averaged 17.6 yards on his eight punt returns in two games with the Rams, third in the league among players with a least four returns.
Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein will miss his third consecutive game because of a groin injury. Starting linebacker Mark Barron is doubtful because of an ankle injury. Barron has missed the first three games of the season. Starting outside linebacker Dominique Easley is listed as questionable because of a knee injury.
The Rams will wear their royal blue-and-gold throwback uniforms for the first time in 2018, and will continue to wear them for four other games at the Coliseum after Thursday’s game.
Teams had been previously limited to wearing throwback uniforms to two home games per season.
“Since returning home to Los Angeles two years ago, we have received a lot of feedback from our fans about their love for these iconic uniforms,” Rams Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff said.
“We appreciate the NFL working with us so we can celebrate even more of the history of Los Angeles Rams football over the next two years as we create our new look that will take us into our new home and the future.”
The Rams are 1-3 in wearing the uniforms they wore from 1973-99 since their return to Southern California in 2016.
The Rams will have a new uniform look in 2020 when their new stadium in Inglewood opens, Demoff said.
The Coliseum Peristyle will light up royal blue and yellow to celebrate the return of the throwback uniforms.
Rosey Grier, who was part of the Rams’ famed 1960s defensive line known as the Fearsome Foursome, will light the Coliseum torch before the kickoff. Grier will be joined by members of the Arcadia High team that won the Rams’ 7-on-7 Passing Tournament, and the Cathedral High players who won the Big Man Championship.
Actress and singer Vanesssa Hudgens will sing the national anthem. A flyover by a C-130 will follow. Players from the Oaks Christian and Morningside high school football teams will stand with the teams on the field during the national anthem.
The high school players participated in an interactive leadership program developed by the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality. The collaboration is designed to build relationships between two area high school football teams with a cross-section of races and socioeconomic backgrounds, and to build leadership, understanding, acceptance and cultural competency for student-athletes and coaches.
Oaks Christian High is based in Westlake Village. Morningside in Inglewood. Hudgens and Ben Pearson, a teen volunteer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, will join the captains at midfield to participate in the coin toss.
Pearson was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia when he was 6 years old. After three years of treatment at Cedars-Sinai, he was in remission and had developed a strong interest in medicine. Once he was old enough to volunteer, Pearson came back to Cedars-Sinai to help patients. He hopes to become a surgical oncologist.
Compton native rapper YG will perform his new track “Take-Off” in the end zone during a commercial timeout in the second quarter.
U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Jeffery Persiani will be honored during the first quarter. Persiani reported for Naval Boot Camp in January 1989. He has been deployed to the Middle East, South America, the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.
Persiani’s decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal and various unit, service and campaign awards.
Persiani is stationed at the Navy Operational Support Center in Bell Gardens.
Nolan Cromwell, a defensive back for the Rams from 1977-87, will be honored during the first timeout of the second quarter as the Alumnus of the Game. Cromwell was selected for the Pro Bowl for the 1980-83 seasons.
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