After Saturday night, the next time the Vikings' starters take the field at U.S. Bank Stadium will be on Sept. 26, in a nationally televised home opener against a team and a quarterback they haven't beaten in eight tries.

The NFL's shortened preseason might deliver players to the start of the regular season in better health, but it give them less time to get sharp before Week 1. The Vikings' second preseason game on Saturday night, in fact, might be the only time many of their starters take the field before September, when the regular season begins with two road games and a Week 3 home matchup with the Seahawks and Russell Wilson.

They sat 33 of their 90 players in last week's preseason opener against the Broncos, resting more players than they've ever done under Mike Zimmer and fielding their backups against Denver's starters during the first half of a 33-6 loss.

Most of their starters will play on Saturday against the Colts, Zimmer said. The coach said he has no specific number of plays in mind for the Vikings' top units — "Like I told the coaches, 'Just tell them to play until I tell them to get out,'" he said — but even the act of preparing for a home game is something Zimmer wants the Vikings to rehearse.

"I probably should have had them do that last week," Zimmer said. "They just came and worked out last week, and they didn't go through that pregame stuff. They'll do all that this week, and we'll go from there."

As the Vikings' starters take the field for the first time this season, here are five players to watch closely against the Colts:

Rashod Hill: With Christian Darrisaw still recovering from a surgery to alleviate pain on his left side from a lingering groin injury, Hill will play with the first team at left tackle. He'll likely see some action against Colts first-round pick Kwity Paye, the former Michigan pass rusher the Vikings liked before the draft. Even as Paye learns at the NFL level, he's the type of athletic pass rusher that Hill will have to show he can handle if he's going to begin the year as the Vikings' starter.

Oli Udoh: The fact the Vikings sat Udoh with the rest of their starters a week ago would suggest he's got the right guard job all but locked up. He'll get his first chance to work with the Vikings' top offensive line this game, and given the fact he's still only played 35 NFL snaps, it's worth watching how Udoh does at right guard — and if he sees any time at left tackle, where Zimmer said this week the Vikings want Udoh to get some work.

Michael Pierce: The Vikings have been waiting to see their new nose tackle for almost a year and a half, and Pierce could barely contain his excitement when talking about his Vikings debut this week. Watch to see how Pierce helps the Vikings control the line of scrimmage against the run, and see if he's able to use his strength to collapse the pocket against the Colts the way he's done it on occasion in practice. His athletic ability has drawn attention during camp — like on Thursday, when he did a somersault after breaking into the backfield and nearly picking off a screen pass. Especially with three-time All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson unlikely to play because of injury, Pierce could get a chance at a strong first impression.

Patrick Peterson: Teammates and coaches have raved about Peterson's presence in camp — especially with how the eight-time Pro Bowler's experience has helped the Vikings' younger defensive backs — but the question of whether Peterson can bounce back from two subpar years in Arizona won't really be answered until he gets on the field. Carson Wentz likely won't play on Saturday, but in what might be Peterson's only on-field action until the regular season, it's worth watching how he handles receivers like T.Y. Hilton and Michael Pittman in whatever playing time he gets.

Kellen Mond: It's not just about the Vikings' starters on Saturday; they still need to determine whether they have a reliable backup behind Kirk Cousins. Vikings coaches praised the week Mond had, after Zimmer challenged him to play faster and take on more of a leadership role following the Broncos game. The rookie should get plenty of snaps in the Vikings' final two preseason games. "I think every time he practices, he gets a little bit better," offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak said. "He's making improvements. Got thrown in there [Saturday] after not having a ton of practice, and he did a lot of things well. But he's gotta keep making slow improvements and we're working with him every day. His [quarterbacks] coach, Andrew [Janocko], is really putting a lot of pressure on him and he's showing little improvements, which is good."