MINNEAPOLIS -- Jerry Burns will leave the obscurity of the press box to walk the sidelines Saturday night in his first game as an NFL head coach.
Burns has spent the past 17 seasons as the Minnesota Vikings' offensive coordinator. This year, he replaces Bud Grant, who retired for the second time following the 1985 campaign.
'Nobody did me any favors when they scheduled the Miami Dolphins and Don Shula for my first game as a head coach in the NFL,' said Burns, 59.
'Miami is a quality team with a quality coach and I've played against Don Shula-coached teams enough to know he isn't the one to do a lot of experimenting in the preseason. He wants to win every game, period.'
Shula does not want to win so bad that he will risk further injury to quarterback Dan Marino, who is bothered by sore knees and legs. Don Strock will start the first half for the Dolphins with Jim Jensen, a sixth-year player, and rookie Jeff Wickersham of Louisiana State sharing second-half duties.
'Probably the most important thing in the first two exhibition games is to find out about the young players,' Shula said. 'We already know enough about the veterans. The young players need a lot of work in this period of time before we have to make roster cuts.'
The Vikings have yet to find a replacement for kicker Jan Stenerud, who retired last season. Chuck Nelson, in his third season, and Luis Zendejas, a first-year player from Arizona State, will share duties in Saturday's game.
Six Minnesota players will miss the game because of injuries, including wide receiver Anthony Carter who is sidelined with a bruised back. Running back Allan Rice, wide receiver Buster Rhymes and flanker Joe Cormier are out with sore hamstrings while guard Brent Boyd is sidelined with the flu.
Defensive end and 1986 No. 1 draft pick Gerald Robinson is bothered by a turf toe and his status is questionable.
Burns said cornerback Willie Teal will undergo arthroscopic surgery Friday to repair a sprained left knee injured Wednesday.
The Dolphins already have played another squad, facing Atlanta in a 36-play scrimmage last Saturday. Strock fired a 10-yard touchdown pass to Mark Clayton for Miami's only score. Strock completed 4-of-6 passes for 61 yards in his 12 plays.
'It'll be a good challenge for our defense after coming off the Atlanta trip where we worked so hard against a team that was primarily a ball-control team,' Shula said. 'Now, we'll be going against a team that is wide open and explosive all of the time.'
The Vikings edged the Dolphins 16-13 in overtime in last year's opening preseason game on the strength of three field goals by Stenerud.