Offseason work pays off for Rudolph

For a rookie tight end, Kyle Rudolph had what some would call an “average season.” Going into the offseason of his rookie year, he was coming off an injury. But now that Kyle is in his second year and was able to get in a full offseason of work, so he is off to a much better start. Kyle is a graduate of Elder High School and was a second round draft pick in the 2011 NFL draft out of the University of Notre Dame. He is now in his second year with the Minnesota Vikings. During Kyle’s junior year at Notre Dame, he suffered a hamstring injury in where it was separated from the bone. Kyle’s stats have improved this year by great lengths after having more time to work in the offseason. “The only difference last offseason was rehab from surgery,” said Rudolph. “This offseason I trained and built on what I already had.” In his 2011 season with the Vikings, Rudolph finished the year with 26 receptions, 249 yards, and three touchdowns in 15 games as the Vikings missed the playoffs. The stats might have been better but the Vikings used two tight end sets with Rudolph and fellow tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. Of the 15 games Rudolph played, he only started eight but this year Rudolph is the lone starter. He was voted to the All-Rookie team by Pro Football Weekly and National Football Post in 2011 but is on track to almost quadruple his numbers this year. Some look at his rookie season along with the honors he was given and consider him to soon be a Pro Bowl tight end. After the first four games of the 2012 season, Rudolph has already equaled his total in touchdowns and has half the receiving yards of his rookie year. Experts are saying that Viking quarterback, Christian Ponder and Rudolph have developed a better relationship but Rudolph does not fully agree with their statements. Rudolph credits the work of Ponder and himself for the better start. “I wouldn’t say our relationship has changed at all, but I would say his growth along with mine in our second year has made us both much better this year,” says Rudolph. The aspect Kyle wanted to work on most, he tells me, is his blocking. “It started during the offseason in the weight room then on my technique in practice.” He also says he worked on his comfort level in his second year compared to his rookie year. In week three Kyle had a one-handed touchdown catch that was in the SportsCenter Top 10 plays. Look for Rudolph and the Vikings as they take on the Titans this Sunday.