New sod could be issue for Cowboys at 49ers exhibition

A look at what to expect in Saturday night's NFL preseason games (all times EDT):


COWBOYS AT 49ERS, 8 p.m.

The Levi's Stadium grass will be a hot topic again as the 49ers host the Cowboys for San Francisco's first home game. New sod went down during the week following last weekend's two Taylor Swift concerts, and the Cowboys sure hope the turf holds up this time.

While 49ers players and coaches have expressed confidence in the grounds crew getting the turf ready for Sunday night, the Dallas side doesn't sound so sure.

"Hopefully they've taken care of their end of it," coach Jason Garrett said. "I'm confident that the league will make sure that field is safe for everybody to play or we won't play the game."

Tony Romo and Dez Bryant might be sitting this one out, especially given Garrett's grass concerns. Romo finished a Week 2 game in 2011 at San Francisco with a punctured lung and a broken rib, still finding enough to rally Dallas for a 27-24 overtime win.

49ers coach Jim Tomsula hasn't said who will play and for how long. It will be his first home game — albeit exhibition — since taking over for now-Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.



St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher returns to the stadium he helped open in 1999 while coaching the Titans, and rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota makes his home debut for Tennessee. The only other game between these teams since the Rams hired Fisher was in St. Louis in 2013.

Both teams are looking for their first win after losing on the road.

Mariota has a chance to put an ugly start to his pro career behind him. The No. 2 overall pick was sacked, intercepted and had a fumble returned for a touchdown in a 31-24 loss at Atlanta. But the rookie completed all five of his passes on an 80-yard touchdown drive.

Rams quarterback Nick Foles gets his second chance to get used to a new offense, though running back Todd Gurley, the 10th overall pick, still is rehabbing from knee surgery. Foles was 3 of 5 for 69 yards and drove the Rams to a field goal in their 18-3 loss at Oakland. The Rams, second in the NFL in sacks since Fisher took over in 2012, will test a Tennessee offensive line that has been shuffled over the past week.



Aaron Rodgers slung it around 19 times in his preseason debut last week. At the rate Ben Roethlisberger is going, it might take him all of August to reach that number.

While Pittsburgh's quarterback would like to get a little longer burn when Rodgers and Green Bay visit, it's not up to him to decide how long the starters go on an offense that has few question marks. Roethlisberger threw a 44-yard TD pass to Martavis Bryant in his one series last week.

Roethlisberger doesn't really need to ask how long he'll be in Sunday.

"I think it will be based on production and depends on how we play," he said. "I have no idea how long I am going to play. I will go until coach Tomlin says I am done."

Pittsburgh's concern is what should happen if Roethlisberger gets hurt. Landry Jones has been ineffective and backup Bruce Gradkowski was recently activated off the physically unable to perform list.

The Packers don't have many issues on offense, either. Left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) won't play. Don Barkley will get the majority of snaps, but moves over from the right side for his first try at left tackle.


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