Rudolph caught five of six targets for 48 yards and a touchdown during Sunday's 27-6 loss to the Bills. Though Rudolph finished tied for fourth on the team in targets, he finished second in both catches and receiving yardage. He scored the team's only touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter, giving him two trips to the end zone through three games this season. Rudolph clearly isn't lost in the shuffle despite the depth at the skill positions for the Vikings, and though his yardage totals could be lacking in some games, he seems to be a go-to option in the red zone. He'll continue as such Thursday against the Rams.
Rudolph totaled 72 receiving yards while hauling in seven of eight targets during Sunday's 29-29 tie with the Packers. Rudolph finished third on the team in targets and receptions, totaling his highest yardage output since the final week of the 2016 season. He got off to a bit of a slow start to the game, but he saw his usage increase toward the end of regulation and in overtime as he nearly helped his side complete an improbable come-from-behind victory. Despite the presences of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs as the top options in the passing attack, Rudolph has found a way to produce in both of the first two games of the season. He'll face a favorable matchup Sunday against the Bills.
Rudolph had one reception for an 11-yard touchdown on two targets in Sunday's win over the 49ers. It was encouraging that Cousins looked to Rudolph in the red zone. However, it was a little worrisome that Minnesota's other tight ends (David Morgan and Tyler Conklin) equaled his target share. He should get more work in the future, but after one week Cousins' previous strong rapport with tight ends didn't mean a huge target share for Rudolph.
Rudolph told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he felt great during training camp and the preseason following ankle surgery in February. "This entire training camp, I have honestly felt like I'm in the best shape I have ever been in and moving as well as I have since I was 19 years old," Rudolph said. The Vikings are heading into Week 1 with a group of skill-position players that appears to be completely healthy, and with new starting quarterback Kirk Cousins at the helm, the offense is positioned to be a top-10 scoring unit for the second consecutive season after it returned to that level a year ago for the first time since 2009. Rudolph is consistently among the first 10 tight ends off the board in drafts this season thanks to his role as the third weapon in the passing game behind top wideouts Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
Rudolph may spend more time in the slot or out wide under new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, Matthew Coller of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities reports. DeFillipo spent last season as the quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia, where TE Zach Ertz lined up all over the formation en route to the most productive season of his career. Rudolph himself is no stranger to the slot, but he hasn't seen much work as an outside receiver, a spot where he can get favorable matchups in the red zone against smaller cornerbacks. While starting wideouts Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen remain the better bets for heavy target volume, Rudolph also has a chance to benefit from the offseason additions of DeFilippo and quarterback Kirk Cousins. The 28-year-old tight end has made a full recovery from February ankle surgery, participating in 11-on-11 work since early-to-mid June.
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|4||09/28||@Los Angeles Rams||21||8.00|
|7||10/21||@New York Jets||7||4.00|
|8||10/29||New Orleans Saints||9||4.67|
|12||11/26||Green Bay Packers||18||8.00|
|13||12/02||@New England Patriots||10||5.00|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||95||63||622||7||36||9.87||104|