Before kicking off another full day of team meetings and practices, Kyle Rudolph covered a few Vikings topics with the *Good Morning Football *crew on NFL Network.
Rudolph fielded questions from Nate Burleson, Kay Adams, Kyle Brandt and Peter Schrager about Dalvin Cook, Teddy Bridgewater and Minnesota's goals for the 2017 season.
The Vikings in April traded up to snag Cook at the 41st overall pick, and Rudolph said he's glad the team made that move. He called the rookie running back a "phenomenal player."
"He's been very impressive throughout OTAs, minicamp, and once we put the pads on in training camp, that's when you can really see things kind of come to form in the run game," Rudolph said. "And obviously it's no secret, I think he touched the ball eight times in our first 13 plays in Buffalo last week, so we're getting him involved early, and he's really handled the load incredibly well."
The tight end also talked running backs with "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen after the Vikings Tuesday afternoon practice.
In the interview for Vikings.com, Rudolph said that Cook is one piece of an impressive position group. He emphasized that Cook, Latavius Murray – whom the Vikings signed as a free agent in March – and returning back Jerick McKinnon each "bring something to the table" for Minnesota.
"Latavius is a big back, Dalvin's got that home-run hitting ability – we saw that a little bit of it in the Buffalo game, early – and then Jerick is the guy that's just a mismatch nightmare," Rudolph told Allen. "You can move him all over the field. We've seen what he can do out of the backfield the last couple of years, so it's exciting. It's like having a bunch of different weapons, and you can move them all around, or we could play them together – who knows."
Schrager of *GMFB *asked Rudolph about Bridgewater's progress in rehabbing his knee.
Rudolph spoke highly of Bridgewater, defining him as a motivator for the rest of the team. He said it's difficult to compare Bridgewater's recovery process with any other.
"A lot of us have had injuries, have had surgeries, and you see the light at the end of the tunnel – whether it be a few weeks' rehab, a few months' rehab," Rudolph said. "[Teddy's] going through a long process, yet he's never let that waver him or deter him in any way. And that's really motivating for me, and I know the rest of the guys in the locker room really take from his attitude and the approach that he's had throughout this whole process."
Heading into 2017, Rudolph's sights are set on an improved season from last year, both personally and for the team as a whole. He's coming off the best statistical season of his career – 83 catches for 840 yards and seven touchdowns – but said the numbers will only serve as a benchmark moving forward.
And as for Minnesota's overall goals for this season?
Rudolph said ultimate goal is the same every year, but hitting the target this season would be a little extra special.
"We want to bring the first Super Bowl [win] home to Minnesota, and why not do it in our own stadium here this year?," Rudolph said. "We'd be the first team to play in our own stadium for the Super Bowl, so our goal is to go out, win the NFC North and have a home playoff game - which for us, we could have home-field advantage throughout the whole playoffs.
"You know, we have a formula here, and we like to win games – win games in the fourth quarter, do things the right way," Rudolph added. "We didn't do that last year, hence the 8-8 record. So we've been working on those critical situations to try to get back to where we were."
Rudolph also talked with the crew about his offseason trip with Linval Joseph and Danielle Hunter to Iceland and traded a good-natured barb with Burleson, a former receiver with the Vikings, Seahawks and Lions, about a recent 'Top 10 Red Zone Threats' list that omitted any tight ends. Burleson's list:
- David Johnson
- LeGarrette Blount
- Mike Evans
- LeSean McCoy
- Jordy Nelson
- Devonta Freeman
- Davante Adams
- Cam Newton
- Brandon Marshall
- Marshawn Lynch
Last season, Rudolph ranked second in the NFL with 24 red zone targets and percentage of a team's red zone targets (32.4 percent). He also tied for second in the league with 14 red zone receptions.