EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — As Kyle Carter conducted an interview near his locker Friday afternoon, multiple teammates stopped by to have some fun with the newest member of the 53-man roster.
Stefon Diggs, C.J. Ham, Stephen Weatherly and Shamar Stephen all gave Carter some sort of grief, a subtle sign that the tight end had indeed arrived with the Vikings.
Carter was added to the active roster Friday morning as the Vikings placed tight end Blake Bell on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury.
The 24-year-old will likely be active Sunday against Cincinnati as tight end Kyle Rudolph is doubtful with an ankle injury.
“It feels good, feels like it’s definitely coming full circle now,” Carter said. “But I definitely still have a lot of work to do, and I’m just appreciative of the opportunity.
“I feel like I’m ready. [Tight ends coach Clancy] Barone got me ready, and Kyle Rudolph, David Morgan and Blake have definitely been great all year,” Carter added.
Carter spent the 2016 offseason and preseason with the Vikings after joining the team as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State.
He was released during final roster reductions and signed to the practice squad. After being released from the practice squad in October, Carter rejoined the Vikings in the same capacity last December.
He spent all of the 2017 offseason with Minnesota and again was released during roster reductions and signed to the practice squad in September. This is the first time that Carter has been on the Vikings 53-man roster.
Carter said he feels much-improved from when he originally joined the Vikings.
“Just overall, from blocking techniques, I felt like that was going to be the most important thing for me,” Carter said. “And then just catching the ball, everything that comes to me.
“I’m just trying to do everything that the guys in front of me were doing,” Carter added. “We’re trying to bring everything to the table, be a balanced player and help the team.”
Carter said the biggest adjustment this week was going through the Vikings playbook instead of helping the scout team offense run the opponent’s plays.
“I’ve been doing a lot this week,” Carter said. “But it’s definitely been fun. I’m excited for the opportunity, and I’m ready to go out there on Sunday to help the team.”
Carter was a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection at Penn State. He appeared in 46 games and made 19 starts for the Nittany Lions, totaling 84 receptions for 963 yards and four touchdowns in four seasons.
Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright said he didn’t expect a drop-off in production or play with Carter in the lineup.
“Kyle Carter’s a smart guy, and he can run great routes,” Wright said. “Even though he’s a smaller tight end, he can also block, and he knows exactly what he’s doing.
“You add that to what we already have, another guy who can make plays, another guy who can catch the ball and run after the play, and then also get his job done blocking-wise, it just adds another weapon to our offense,” Wright added.
Randle’s thoughts on 2017 Vikings
John Randle’s path from his childhood in small-town Texas to the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be chronicled tonight on NFL Network, as John Randle: A Football Life premieres at 8 p.m. (CT).
Randle chatted with Vikings.com earlier this week about that journey, wanting to be a garbage man as a kid and making it as an undrafted free agent.
But the Vikings Ring of Honor member with 137.5 career sacks also gave his thoughts on the current Vikings team.
Randle said that although Minnesota saw its eight-game win streak snapped against the Panthers, he likes their chances going forward with potential playoff games.
“The Vikings have had a very successful season, but sometimes when you lose a game, you can learn a lot about yourself,” Randle said. “It’s better to lose something in the regular season than to lose something in the playoffs.
“The mistakes they made are so easily correctable … sometimes they have a way of driving you,” Randle added. “If you lose a game like [Carolina], they could have easily won this game. I definitely believe that if they played them again then they definitely would win.”
Defending the deep ball
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green have teamed up to form one of the most formidable offensive duos in recent years around the NFL.
Of Green’s 57 career touchdown catches 17 have gone for 40-plus yards, including 14 thrown by Dalton.
That will be a point of emphasis for the Vikings secondary Sunday as they try to limit big plays from the former first-round pick.
Minnesota, however, is coming off a strong game defending the deep pass.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Vikings defense effectively took away Panthers quarterback Cam Newton's deep ball. Newton completed just four throws that traveled 10 or more yards in the air downfield against Minnesota.
Newton had just 137 passing yards against the Vikings, which tied his lowest output of the season.
That was the lowest total allowed by the Vikings all season, as Minnesota has held opponents to less than 200 net passing yards seven times this season. The Vikings are 5-2 in such games.