MINNEAPOLIS - When John Carlson signed a five-year, $25 million deal with the Vikings, expectations for his production were high. Fair or unfair, he hasn't come close to producing as Vikings fans expected him to.
On Thursday night, however, with Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph out with a broken left foot, Carlson had his biggest game as a member of the Vikings.
He was targeted seven times and hauled in each pass for a total of 98 yards, including a touchdown pass from Christian Ponder to bring Minnesota within one score, 27-21, in the third quarter.
Carlson missed the 2011 season with a torn labrum and then signed the big contract, with a reported $11 million guaranteed, to play for the Vikings. He likely has grown tired of answering questions about his disappointment that he hasn't been more productive since returning from injury and joining the Vikings. But after his biggest game in Minnesota - his home state - Carlson deflected any and all praise.
"Yeah I'm excited it was fun to be involved but obviously we miss Kyle [Rudolph]," Carlson said after extolling the whole team for its collective effort in the win. "Kyle's a beast and we want him out there on the field. It was fun to be more involved in the offense and hopefully that can continue but we want Kyle back as soon as possible."
He also brought up unprovoked how much fun the home crowd atmosphere was when the team was competitive in a game.
After a season and a half of largely unproductive play with Minnesota, what was the secret to Carlson's breakout?
"I had egg whites and oatmeal for breakfast today. I salted it a little bit more than normal I think and maybe that was the answer," Carlson deadpanned.
"No, I had some more opportunities tonight because of Kyle being hurt."