EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Standout size and huge hands led the Minnesota Vikings to rave about their second-year tight end Kyle Rudolph and mention how he could be thrown the ball even when he's seemingly covered.
Early this season, they seemed right as all 6-foot-6, 256 pounds of Rudolph was among the league leaders in receiving touchdowns and a key threat in the red zone. Lately, however -- perhaps not coincidentally as the Vikings' passing game has faltered -- covering Rudolph has led to stopping him.
Rudolph, who's second on the team with 27 catches for 242 yards and five touchdowns, has just two receptions the past three games and has been held without a catch in two of those games. His blocking has improved to the point where he is credited with helping running back Adrian Peterson have three straight 100-yard games, but Minnesota knows it needs to get its big tight end catching the ball.
"We believe in order for our offense to be effective in the passing game, we need to have him ...