Vikings intend to change the way a lighter Kyle Rudolph runs routes
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MANKATO, Minn. - Kyle Rudolph made some changes. The former Pro Bowl tight end dropped roughly 15 pounds this offseason by focusing on his diet.
Now, the Vikings are helping him through another change, one they hope will pay dividends for Rudolph in the team's passing game.
"I just think it's a mindset in terms of the way we run routes," offensive coordinator Norv Turner said Saturday. "The way he has run routes [in the past] has been to stop, change direction, a lot of moves at the top of routes, cutting, stopping to cut. We try to keep him on the move a little bit more."
Rudolph said dropping from about 273 pounds to 258 pounds has helped him get in and out of breaks more quickly. That's a part of what the Vikings are looking for.
"Quicker change of direction, running out of breaks, as we say, not turning and looking for the ball because we know where the ball is going to be placed," Turner said. "Some of it is technical stuff and he's taken to it well."
Rudolph said he worked on that this offseason because it hasn't historically been one of his strengths, given his 6-foot-6 frame.
"A lot of times in the past we were speed-cutting out of things. That way you're running full speed the whole time," Rudolph said, explaining what will change this year under Turner. "This [system requires] getting in and out of the break as quick as possible. ... Being a bigger, taller guy that wasn't always my strength. I have a long stride and I like to keep it going, so that was something I had to work on this offseason."
Turner praised Rudolph, saying that he's worked as "hard as anyone in the organization and he's getting himself ready to have a great year." Turner's work with tight ends in the past, most notably Antonio Gates and Jordan Cameron, has some Vikings fans excited about Rudolph's potential.
"I'm continuing to try to get a feel for Kyle because he's a little different than guys I've been around. He's a great target for the quarterbacks. Those guys [tight ends] tend to be a security blanket for the quarterbacks."
"The thing Kyle has done is he's gotten up the field and he's running better than he has in the past. I think he's understanding that we're trying to change his style of running in terms of routes and he's taken to it. I expect him to be a big part of what we do offensively."
Rudolph said that part of the reason he lost the weight was to reduce the stress on his left foot, in which he broke two bones Nov. 3, 2013, during a touchdown catch against the Cowboys. He said he hasn't noticed any improvements to his straight-line speed, but between making quicker cuts and the reduced pressure on his now-healed foot have made the change worth it.
The biggest challenge this will pose for Rudolph?
"Getting used to playing at that weight in the run game," Rudolph said.
So, could that mean a smaller role for the tight end in run blocking for Adrian Peterson?
"Not at all, we're going to run the football a ton and I'm going to be standing right next to the tackle."