The Los Angeles Chargers will play their first regular-season game at StubHub Center Sunday after losing both preseason games in the 27,000-seat stadium with crowds nearly 6,000 short of capacity.
Attendance Sunday is expected to be larger than the preseason games. The Chargers, who are sold out of season tickets, released a limited number of team holds for the game against the Miami Dolphins, which are available, along with verified resale of season ticket member seats, at the Chargers website.
The Chargers will try to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2008 after losing their opener to the Denver Broncos, 24-21, Monday night. They appeared to have tied the game on a 44-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo, on the rookie’s first NFL field goal attempt, but Denver called a time out just before the kick with five seconds left. The second kick was blocked.
Chargers tight end Antonio Gates needs one touchdown catch to become the NFL’s career leader among tight ends. Gates is tied with Tony Gonzalez at 111. Quarterback Philip Rivers threw to Gates three times against the Broncos, with Gates catching six- and 11-yard passes.
The game is the season opener for the Dolphins, whose planned season opener last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Miami Gardens, Florida was postponed because of Hurricane Irma.
“It will be exciting for our guys to just finally stop practicing and play a game,” said coach Adam Gase. The Dolphins practiced in Oxnard at the Dallas Cowboys training camp facility adjacent to the River Ridge Golf Club Wednesday through Friday.
The Los Angeles Rams, who practice in nearby Thousand Oaks at California Lutheran University, sent what Gase described as “a whole bunch of”‘ equipment, making “it easy for our guys to get things rolling before our stuff got here.” “Everybody’s been great and making sure we’re taken care of,” Gase said. “It just seems like all hands were on deck to help us out.”
Jay Cutler will be making his debut as Miami’s quarterback, four months after signing with Fox Sports to become an analyst on NFL broadcasts. Cutler signed with the Dolphins in August after starter Ryan Tannehill tore his left ACL in the first non-contact practice of the season, sidelining him for the season.
The Chargers added two players to their 53-man active roster since Monday’s loss.
Defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi was added to the active roster after completing a four-game suspension without pay issued Dec. 12 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Defensive end Whitney Richardson was waived to create a spot on the roster for Palepoi.
Rookie cornerback Michael Davis was promoted from the practice squad Saturday, replacing receiver Geremy Davis, who played against the Broncos Monday, the same day he was promoted from the practice squad.
The Chargers will commemorate their return to Los Angeles after 56 seasons in San Diego by having Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Ron Mix and four of his teammates from the 1960 Los Angeles Chargers recognized on the field in the first quarter. They will present the organization with an original 1960 team-signed football.
LaDainian Tomlinson, the Chargers career rushing leader, will be presented his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring at halftime. Tomlinson’s Pro Football Hall of Fame bust was flown in from Canton for the ceremony.
Tomlinson is a special assistant to owner Dean Spanos, helping to further develop fan engagement and community relations programs. The national anthem will be sung by Jordin Sparks, the 2007 “American Idol” winner.
Before Sparks sings the national anthem, 125 service members representing the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Navy will take the field, holding red, white and blue ribbons, paying tribute to the flag.
As the anthem concludes, two F-35 Lightning II jets from Edwards Air Force Base will conduct a flyover, traveling south to north above StubHub Center.
Army Sgt. Gus Orozco and Air Force Lt. Col. Ed Reynolds Jr. will be honored during pregame ceremonies as the Military Heroes of the Week.
Orozco has served in the Army for more than 12 years, including a 2007 deployment to Iraq. He is veteran affairs commissioner in the president’s cabinet at Cal State Long Beach.
Reynolds has served more than 22 years in the Air Force, amassed 5,000 flying hours, including 640 combat hours in 147 missions. He oversees “Wings Over Wendy’s,” a program where veterans convene weekly at a Wendy’s restaurant in West Hills.
Pregame ceremonies will also include the presentation of a donation from the Chargers to Maj. Mike LaSorda from the Los Angeles Air Force Base to support its family recreation and youth programs.
The donation is being made in connection with the Chargers recognition of Monday’s the 70th anniversary of the formation of the Air Force as a separate branch of the military. The base in El Segundo is the home of the Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center.