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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings TE Rudolph was frustrated by usage before breakout game vs. Green Bay

By Matthew Coller

EAGAN, Minn. — Prior to the Minnesota Vikings’ matchup with the Green Bay Packers last Sunday night, head coach Mike Zimmer and Kyle Rudolph discussed the veteran tight end’s lack of targets.

The two-time Pro Bowler, who has averaged as many as 5.2 receptions per game in his career, hadn’t been a main target as he was in the previous two seasons.

Against the Packers he was much more involved and rose to the occasion with seven receptions on seven targets for 63 yards.

“The frustration comes because I’m a competitor and we weren’t winning games,” Rudolph said. “I thought I could help our offense and make plays in certain situations that would help our team win games. We just dove into, when are those situations? How can I help this offense be more productive? At times that’s helping in protection and chipping…but there are certain situations where that’s not the case and I felt like I could help our team out and it kind of clicked there on Sunday night.”

Rudolph has been an effective weapon for the Vikings’ offense when he’s been targeted. On third down, he’s created 10 first downs on 12 third down receptions and averaged 7.2 yards when targeted on first down.

Early in the season, it appeared the tight end would be a big part of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s gameplan. In Weeks 2-6, he was targeted 28 times and made 26 catches, including two touchdowns. But the Vikings got away from using him after that, throwing 13 times his way for nine completions for only 96 yards over a four-week stretch.

This isn’t the first time there have been variations in Rudolph’s numbers. Two seasons ago, he nabbed 83 passes. That dropped to 57 last season, but he was efficient, setting a career high in catch percentage (which could be broken this year) and catching eight touchdowns. Asked what factors have gone into the differences in statistical output, Rudolph said:

“It depends on coordinator, it depends on situational football, our offense, play calling, a lot of things that I don’t control so I try not to worry about that and one of the things that I tried to stress to myself over the last few weeks is to control what you can control, my work ethic and my preparation.”

If Stefon Diggs is out or slowed down this week by a knee injury (he did not practice Wednesday or Thursday), the Vikings’ offense will have to look for other players to step up, including Rudolph.

“When the opportunities do come, I have to make sure I catch every one of them,” Rudolph said.

The post Vikings TE Rudolph was frustrated by usage before breakout game vs. Green Bay appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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