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Rudolph's Catches Propel Vikings Offense

SEATTLE — Kyle Rudolph was held without a catch in the Vikings preseason opener last Friday in Cincinnati.

But the tight end made his presence felt Thursday night as he had a pair of catches for 54 yards, both of which went for a first down.

Rudolph said he relished the chance to contribute a week after getting shut out on the stat sheet.

"We had a few opportunities last week that didn't come about," Rudolph said. "To have the opportunity to make plays in the passing game, especially when we were kind of struggling to move the ball a little bit … to get us rolling there in the first half, it felt good."

Rudolph started his big night by beating the Seattle secondary on a corner route for 22 yards late in the first quarter. Vikings quarterback Shaun Hill placed a perfect ball right to Rudolph past Seattle safety Kelcie McCray.

"We got man coverage, and Shaun expects me to win," Rudolph said. "He was riding on me the whole way."

Rudolph's next grab helped set up Minnesota's first touchdown. Hill stayed tough in the pocket and found the former Notre Dame star down the middle of the field for a 34-yard completion.

Rudolph praised the play of Hill, who started in place of Teddy Bridgewater.

"Shaun's great," Rudolph said. "He's been around this league a long time and not many guys can get thrown in and pick up right where we left off, and that's what we did tonight.

"Shaun came out and gave us a great first half and that's what we expect of him and what he expects of himself," he added. "That's why he's still around this league at [36] years old, so it was good to see him go out and play well."

Rudolph led the Vikings with five touchdown catches last season. He also had 49 catches for 495 yards.

The tight end said facing a pair of strong defenses in the preseason, especially one like Seattle, will only help the Vikings going forward.

"I mentioned earlier in the preseason about playing teams that are playoff teams like the Bengals and the Seahawks," Rudolph said. "Especially for us as tight ends, they've got some of the best defensive ends in the league, a couple of the best safeties … everybody that we're going against is the best at their position.

"It's a great test early in the season to see how we match up against them," he added. "We know that they're going to be in our way for what we want to accomplish toward the end of the year."

Patterson returns to field for Vikings

Although he did not return kicks against Seattle, Cordarrelle Patterson caught a pair of screen passes for 17 yards in his first appearance of the preseason.

Patterson's biggest gain came on a 12-yard play in which he weaved his way past a few Seattle defenders, although he said the sequence could have gone for more.

"Everybody knows the type of player I am when I get the ball in my hands," Patterson said. "I just try to showcase myself, but the guys did a great job blocking it up.

"Sometimes on the screens you always feel like you can cut back and make a play," he added. "I looked back on the film and I saw a little land and I should have just went outside."

Patterson did not play in the Vikings first preseason game after injuring his shoulder in training camp.

"It felt good to be out there, I felt like I was getting my groove back," Patterson said. "It's been a long time, about six or seven months, so it felt good to be out there with my teammates."

Marcus Sherels and Troy Stoudermire split kick return duties in place of Patterson. Stoudermire had a 31-yard return, and Sherels had a 28-yard return.

Patterson led the league with a 31.8-yard kick return average last season and added a pair of touchdowns.

Walsh laments late missed kick against Seattle

Blair Walsh had a make and a miss on Thursday night against the Seahawks.

The Vikings kicker nailed a 27-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter, but pushed a 47-yard try wide left with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Walsh's fourth-quarter attempt came with the game tied at 11.

"Of course you want that one at the end of the game," Walsh said. "But I'll get better.

"I thought I hit it well, it just didn't stay as straight as I wanted it to," he added. "I'll work on that and it's something I need to get better at and I will."

Walsh said his successful 27-yard try was ironic because it was the same distance as the kick he missed against Seattle in the playoffs last season.

"We knew it right away because you could hear it announced," Walsh said. "It's just part of it, but we weren't thinking about it."

Smith gets start at right tackle

Andre Smith and T.J. Clemmings have each spent time at the Vikings first-team right tackle spot during training camp.

Smith started against the Seahawks on Thursday night before Clemmings lined up with the second unit. Jeremiah Sirles as the second-team left tackle behind Matt Kalil.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said he thought the Vikings offensive line fared well in pass protection but needs to improve in the running game.

"We didn't run the ball good enough," Zimmer said. "You know, they got eight guys in the box on almost every play, so – we have to run the ball better, but we're making progress there.

"I thought the pass protection was good, I thought it was solid," he added. "We gave (Hill) a lot of time. So, we still have a lot of work to today, but we'll keep grinding at it. "

The Vikings allowed just one sack against Seattle.

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