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Notebook: Rudolph Sees Higher Comfort Level on Offense

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings have just one minicamp practice left before they turn their attention toward training camp in Mankato. 

Based on the progress made by Minnesota's offense this spring, tight end Kyle Rudolph said he feels the unit will be on the same page once the dog days of summer hit in a few weeks.

Rudolph pointed to the cohesion that quarterback Kyle Rudolph has brought to the offense by being able to spend an entire offseason with the team instead of being thrown into the fire at the beginning of the 2016 regular season.

"I definitely think that there was not only a higher comfort level with the offense, but a higher comfort level with us as players," Rudolph said. "Amongst the tight ends, the receivers room, we have played 15 games together and now we have had almost a whole offseason program together, so we are starting to get to that point where you put in all these extra reps and you start to see that paying off in team period."

Rudolph set career highs with 83 catches for 840 yards in 2016 and added seven receiving touchdowns.

The former second-round pick said that he liked where Minnesota's offense was at the end of the regular season, when the Vikings moved to 8-8 with a 38-10 win over Chicago.

With Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur gearing up for his first full season on that role, Rudolph said the coach has put his stamp on the offensive philosophy.

"I think one of the things that Pat Shurmur does well, and is what we have kind of got to as he took over last year, was recognizing what we do well and trying to make things simpler for us, yet more complex to the defense," Rudolph said. "If we can do things that we do well, let's just do those things more often. 

"I think that is one of the things that we got to last year, and we were able to see our offense kind of kicking up strides there to the end and culminating that last game against the Bears," Rudolph added.

Robison reflects on importance of team bonding

An NFL team needs talent, work ethic and mental toughness to be successful on Sundays in the fall.

But unity and an unmistakable bond also so a long way in racking up wins.

Vikings defensive end Brian Robison spoke to the media Wednesday and noted that Organized Team Activity and minicamp practices can go a long way toward a team's success.

"You start to realize the importance of these offseason workouts and how important they are to not only make your team better, but for the guys to get to know each other, to build that camaraderie, that competition," Robison said. "As far as our D-line room, that is what fuels our defense so much is that we compete day-in and day-out, with each other, with our offense, and I think that helps you in the long run. 

"Definitely as you get older, you start to realize that every team is different every year," Robison added. "You cannot live on what you did last year. You cannot expect things to just pick up the way they left off last year. Every year you have to build a new foundation."

Robison's words were spawned by a message from former Vikings wide receivers Randy Moss and Ahmad Rashad, who spoke to the team Wednesday after it was announced the pair will be inducted into the team's Ring of Honor this season.

"Anytime you can hear these greats come back talk and the emotions that they had when they played the game, you try to learn from that," Robison said. "You try to learn from what they did on a daily basis that made them so great so you can apply it to what you do on a daily basis."

Robison has 56 career sacks, which ranks in the top 10 all-time in Vikings franchise history.

Griffen aims to be leader for Vikings defense

As he enters his seventh season in the NFL, Everson Griffen has realized he is one of the elder statesmen on the Vikings.

The defensive end talked Wednesday about how his game has evolved over the years and said he aims to take more of a leadership role in 2017.

"I feel like it's finally clicking for me," Griffen said. "Ever since Coach Zimmer got here … Andre Patterson is the best D-line coach in the league … it started clicking there.

"I'm still growing and still maturing, my whole thing is just to lead this team," Griffen added. "(I want to) be a team captain day-in and day-out and stay consistent with that."

Griffen has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons and has 48 career sacks after being a fourth-round pick out of USC in 2010. 

But don't expect the energetic Griffen to slow down anytime soon. 

"I've got a lot left in the tank," Griffen said. "I'm having fun and that's the most important thing right now."

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