Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 10/12/12
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. The oversized oven mitts in Kyle Rudolph's locker offer the hilarious, continuing reminder of what the second-year tight end has become known for during his time with the Minnesota Vikings.Rudolph's big, strong hands have gained notoriety in his short tenure in Minnesota. The large white gloves that he wears for practice and games have been likened to the Hamburger Helper oven mitt made famous in commercials, which is how those oven mitts made it to Rudolph's locker. After a report in a Twin Cities newspaper, General Mills, a local company, sent Rudolph a gift box filled with the two mitts and a few boxes of the easy-to-make meal.Rudolph is using those hands described by quarterback and good friend Christian Ponder as "freakish" and his size (6-foot-6 and 258 pounds) this season to feast on opposing defenses. Using his hands and size to his advantage, Rudolph has hauled in two big touchdown catches this season while blanketed by defenders, proving even when he is covered, he still has an edge on defenders."His height is definitely an advantage," Ponder said. "His ability to jump, he's got long arms, he's basically going to catch anything that's close to him. So, I trust in that fact. If we have a mismatch on somebody, I'm putting it up and let him get it."And the two are connecting often this season, finally showing results from the rapport they built as rookies last year entering the league during the lockout. Rudolph's four touchdowns lead Minnesota (4-1) and are tied for the third-highest total of touchdown catches in the league through the first five weeks. He's tied with the most Rudolph, the Vikings' second-round draft pick last season, is second on the team with 19 catches and 169 yards entering Sunday's game at Washington.Rudolph's usage in his rookie season was puzzling, especially in the red zone as he demonstrated his unique ability to win one-on-one matchups whether defended by safeties, linebackers or cornerbacks. Last season, he had one of the few offensive highlights for Minnesota when he snatched a pass from around the back of Denver Broncos' safety Quinton Carter using those big, white gloves for his second of three touchdowns in his rookie year."When you're covered one-on-one, you're open in this league because it's so hard for a defensive guy to make a play on the ball when he's running with his back to the ball," Rudolph said. "It's something you see all the time in this league with quarterbacks making back-shoulder throws and stuff. I wouldn't want to be on the defensive side, that's tough. It's hard to defend." This season has been no different. In Week 3, Ponder lofted a pass deep into the end zone for Rudolph, who was covered by safety Donte Whitner. Rudolph had to adjust while the ball was in flight, turning his body and snared the sinking pass one-handed while falling down. Last week, Rudolph went up fought off two defenders who were pulling on his arms as he hauled in another touchdown catch from Ponder. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgave and coach Leslie Frazier said Rudolph's ability to use his length and leaping ability is just as important as the strength and size of his hands. Musgrave agreed there are times that Rudolph can be considered open, even when he's covered."There's some receivers like that too, where they get their separation vertically rather than horizontally at times because of their size and their length," Musgrave said, adding: "Kyle's a quarterback's best friend."Of course, Ponder and Rudolph had hit it off immediately last season, while having to navigate through their first NFL offseason unable to go to the team's facilities because of the lockout. A friendship grew off the field and its transpiring on the field this year."I feel like that's something we've built the last two years," Rudolph said. "He understands that the worst that's going to happen is I'm going to knock it down. I'll make sure he doesn't get hung out to dry and somebody else catches it, and I'm going to do my best to go up and get it."There could be more opportunities this week for the pair against a Redskins' defense that has surrendered touchdowns to opposing tight ends in four of its five games. Opposing tight ends have averaged seven catches for 73.6 yards against Washington this season. Last week, the Redskins gave up 13 catches, 123 yards and a touchdown to Atlanta's Tony Gonzalez.Armed with a trust and belief in each other, Ponder will continue to look for those familiar white mitts."I trust him that even if it is a bad ball and a defender's going to make a play, he's so big that he's going to knock it down and not let them catch the ball," Ponder said. "We've seen it last year, the preseason and this year, he creates mismatches no matter how much covered he is and who's covering him. We're going to keep utilizing him and keep giving him the ball." Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Coach K gets buzzer-beater win over Virginia for his birthday

Baylor approves new measures to deal with sexual assault

Joe Mauer: Concussions blurred vision, affected hitting

LeBron James says Kevin Love-Celtics trade rumor is false

Michael Jordan gifts Kobe Bryant full set of Air Jordans

Bethune-Cookman football player killed at party


Former UFC heavyweight Kevin Randleman dead at 44

WATCH: Chelsea scores three goals in less than 20 minutes

Broncos safety Shiloh Keo arrested for DUI

Mountain West admits error, says Boise St. shot was good

WATCH: John Calipari loses his mind, gets ejected

Former Clemson star Tajh Boyd to speak at John Kasich rally

WATCH: Memphis forward recreates Vince Carter's elbow dunk in game

Bruins forward is goal scoring machine after suspension

Michael Jordan gives Kobe Bryant complete set of Air Jordans

Drake has Kentucky edition of custom ‘OVO’ Air Jordan 8s

QUIZ: Name every NBA All-Star Game MVP

Watch rare footage of Stephen Curry from 2001-02 emerges

Check out this custom camouflage Oregon helmet

Ejected John Calipari tweets “they don’t need me and I love it”

Popovich would 'buy ticket' to watch Warriors play

Jamal Murray destroyed South Carolina defender with dunk

WATCH: Lon Kruger gets Oklahoma hoops squad hype for Kansas test

Texas signee glad he didn’t pick Texas A&M after alleged racism

Dallas Stars have passed the early tests in February

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker