Vikings Rookie TE Kyle Rudolph Unfiltered

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While the Vikings 2-6 start has made this season a lost cause, fans have seen reason for hope going forward. The team’s 1st round pick Christian Ponder has looked steady and poised while 2nd rounder Kyle Rudolph has shown enough of his pass catching ability to make you think he could be a go-to-guy for Ponder in the coming years.

Rudolph, whose junior year at Notre Dame was cut short with a hamstring injury, was the first tight end chosen in April’s draft (43rd overall). A big target at 6-6, 258 lbs, the 22-year-old hopes to use the second half of this season to cement himself as the Vikings tight end of the future.

I caught up with Rudolph at Winter Park on Thursday to discuss his rookie campaign.

DZ: You are about half way through your rookie year, what are your impressions so far?

RUDOLPH: It’s gone well so far, minus our record. We’d like to win a few more ballgames. I feel like I’m adjusting well and getting more comfortable.

DZ: You are coming off the bye week, what did you do during your time off?

RUDOLPH: I went back to school for a few days and hung out with some friends and went home for the weekend and got to spend time with family.

DZ: Were you working toward your degree?

RUDOLPH: No, I didn’t take any classes - I am still working toward my degree - but I just went back to see friends.

DZ: You left school after your junior year, how hard of a decision was that?

RUDOLPH: It was a tough decision, but I feel like I made the right decision. I feel like this is what’s best for me and my family.

DZ: Obviously it’s a big life decision, how long does it take you to work through all that and who do you talk to?

RUDOLPH: I started thinking about it the day I got hurt in the middle of October. I obviously had a lot of great resources with people at Notre Dame, our personnel director there and Coach (Brian) Kelly and even Coach (Charlie) Weis, who obviously has a lot of connections with the NFL. He helped me out a lot.

DZ: What been the most surprising thing (for you) about the league so far?

RUDOLPH: I think our record. I feel like we are a very talented team. We’ve got a bunch of good guys in this locker room that work hard and I think that’s something we have to look forward to the second half of the year.

DZ: Everyone says the game is a lot faster going from college to the NFL, how long does it take you to get adjusted to that?

RUDOLPH: It’s definitely faster, but as training camp goes on and you get your first couple live preseason games, things start to slow down. As you work though the regular season, you get your preparation down and the more prepared you are, the slower things are on Sundays.

DZ: You guys had a quarterback change this year, from the receiving part of your game, how long does it take you to get adjusted to that?

RUDOLPH: I felt like both of those guys; Donovan did great in his time and Christian prepared well. When you have a guy who prepares well and takes the reps seriously in practice, it’s not as big of a transition because you are already used to it. You’ve already been working on it in practice.

DZ: Being rookies, is there a bond between you two guys?

RUDOLPH: Definitely. Anytime you come into something new with somebody else, you are going to look for familiar backgrounds, familiar personalities. We kinda got close from the beginning.

DZ: One last thing, you have a veteran tight end, Visanthe Shiancoe, who has had success in the NFL, how has he been able to help you out?

RUDOLPH: Both Visanthe and Jimmy (Kleinsasser) have helped me a ton. Having a guy like Jimmy, who’s played 13 years and Visanthe in his 9th, you can’t put a value on the time I get to spend with them in the meeting room and out on the practice field just picking their brains and trying to learn as much as I can.

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