Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 6/14/12
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. The sight of Kyle Rudolph all 6-foot-6, 258 pounds of him split out wide in the Minnesota Vikings' offense is striking, a stark contrast to the slighter receivers typically lined up in the same area.Rudolph, the team's second-round pick in 2011, has found himself in the spot often during organized team activities the past three weeks. It's also a spot he can see himself growing in and joining the likes of the elite tight ends in the NFL. Teams around the league have witnessed increased production and versatility from tight ends such as New England's Rob Gronkowski and New Orleans' Jimmy Graham. Within the Vikings' division, Green Bay's Jermicheal Finley and Detroit's Brandon Pettigrew are in the same mold. The growing trend has been using tight ends all over the field to dictate matchups and mismatches.Rudolph is hoping he can do the same in Minnesota's offense."Definitely," Rudolph said this week at OTAs. "It's a copycat league. Teams that are having success, just look across the league with not even tights but the passing game in general -- shotgun and stuff like that, how many teams are utilizing that into your offense. We feel like with the success the tight ends are having we can have that same success here."The Vikings have tried to address depth at wide receiver with the additions of Jerome Simpson, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright. But more tight end production from Rudolph and free-agent signee John Carlson would go a long way in aiding quarterback Christian Ponder in his second season. The New England Patriots developed the blueprint for dual-tight end success last season with their use of Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and Ponder believes using Rudolph in a Gronkowski role can work similarly in Minnesota."I think so," Ponder said. "(Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave) is really trying to spread him out, get him out wide, create a lot of mismatches with him, and he can do it. He's got the speed and the hands and the agility to do it. We're definitely working that way as we get more comfortable."One reason Rudolph feels comfortable on the outside is because he's been working on improving his speed this offseason. Rudolph suffered a devastating injury in October 2010 when his hamstring ripped off the bone and ended his Notre Dame career. Minnesota knew the skills were still there for Rudolph and felt comfortable enough with his recovery to draft him with the 43rd overall pick last year.Rudolph returned in time for training camp last season but never really felt he regained the explosiveness in his game."It's weird when you have surgery because you feel like you're going as fast as you can and you feel like you are, but then you watch yourself on tape and you're like, Ah, that's just not me,' " Rudolph said. "But now I feel like I'm running like I used to, and I feel like I definitely have that explosiveness that I had when I was in college that made a special tight end."One of the memorable scenes of the Vikings' 2011 season was Rudolph going over a Denver defender to snatch a touchdown catch. His hands were there, but he wasn't gaining separation from defenders."It was one of those things where I was always used to running by linebacker my junior year at Notre Dame," Rudolph said. "There was a point halfway through last year where I ran a go route and I ran by a linebacker. I was like, That's the first time I've done that in about a year.' Now it's second nature."Even Coach Frazier said something to me during our offseason runs. He came up to me and made a point that I look like my old self and look explosive. It was real encouraging to hear that from someone else. As a player, you always think you're running fast or back to your old self, but for someone on the outside to see my explosiveness, it makes me excited and it makes my hamstring a thing of the past."The thing that still stands out about to Frazier and his teammates, however, are Rudolph's oven mitt-sized hands."They're freakish," Ponder said. "I mean, for a guy that big, his hands, obviously they're huge. But he's got soft hands, catches the ball, plucks out of the air. It's crazy."Ponder will certainly be looking for his good friend Rudolph often this season. The question for Ponder, the Vikings and their opponents is: Where will Rudolph be coming from?Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dallas Cowboys' team employee bus involved in fatal crash

Aldon Smith posts video under a pseudonym of a blunt on Periscope

WATCH: Cam Newton get blocked by a girl playing volleyball

Russia avoids complete ban from Rio Olympics by the IOC

Report: Padres trying to move Andrew Cashner, Derek Norris


Baseball's top prospect called up to majors by Astros

Report: Braves 'aggressively' shopping Francoeur, Aybar

Report: Hue Jackson designing plays for Terrelle Pryor

Report: Darnell Dockett expected to announce retirement

Report: Yankees have not discussed releasing A-Rod

Report: D-Backs making Shelby Miller available via trade

Cristiano Ronaldo spars with Conor McGregor in gym

Adam Silver is the new standard-bearer for league commisioners

Iowa football player held at gunpoint by police while playing Pokemon Go

Eight most significant injuries going into NFL training camp

Man. U players banned from playing 'Pokemon Go?'

Ken Griffey Jr. put on backwards hat during HOF speech

Mike Piazza honors 9/11 victims during Hall of Fame speech

Jeremy Lin hints he is racially profiled by arena employees

Why did Rio mayor offer to put kangaroo in Olympic village?

Joe Maddon wastes no time cracking Chris Sale joke

Report: Lamar Odom walked out on family intervention

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

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

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker