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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph among players most helped by first-round bye

By Matthew Coller

One of the cliches you will hear in every locker room when players are asked about injuries is: “Everybody’s playing through something.”

But there are levels to that. Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph played against the Cincinnati Bengals three weeks ago on an injured ankle that put him a walking boot.

The 28-year-old caught 57 passes this season for 532 yards and eight touchdowns. While his fantasy stats were down – in part because of a decrease in snaps over the final three weeks – he was arguably more effective than in his 83-catch 2016 season because of his work on third downs, in the red zone and run blocking.

Rudolph admitted Wednesday that he has struggled while trying to block on his dinged-up ankle.

“I’m not a big enough, strong enough guy to just muscle people around,” Rudolph said. “I’ve become a decent blocker because of my technique, and when I’m not able to execute that, it’s difficult.”

He did not participate in either Tuesday or Wednesday’s practices.

“It would have been a struggle had we not gotten this week off,” Rudolph said.

Rudolph has been a favorite target of Case Keenum’s in key situations. He has 14 catches on third down, 11 of which have resulted in first downs. The 6-foot-5 tight end has been targeted 16 times in the red zone and caught 14 passes, 10 of those being touchdowns.

In six NFC North contests, he made 19 catches and averaged 10.4 yards per reception.

When Rudolph was forced to miss time, the Vikings got creative, using backup tight end David Morgan and backup tackle Aviante Collins in running situations.

Rudolph isn’t the only player who will benefit from the week off. Center Pat Elflein missed Week 17 with a shoulder injury. KSTP-TV’s Darren Wolfson reported that Elflein did not suffer a new injury, but was still ailing from the same shoulder issue that kept him out of the Vikings’ loss to Carolina.

The post Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph among players most helped by first-round bye appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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