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Rudolph Wants 2016 Season to be Benchmark for Future Success

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — It wasn't hard to find Kyle Rudolph's name while looking up stats and numbers among tight ends during the 2016 season.

The Vikings tight end was near the top in almost all major statistical categories, as Rudolph finished third among all tight ends with 83 catches, tied for third with seven touchdown catches and was fourth with 840 receiving yards.

So are the numbers Rudolph put up this past season the benchmark for himself going forward?

"Absolutely. I want 2016 to be a springboard for me to bigger and better things," Rudolph said. "That's kind of what I've always expected out of myself in terms of statistics and numbers, and that's going to be the baseline for my career moving forward." 

Rudolph's standout season placed him atop Minnesota's record books for tight ends, cementing the former second-round pick as one of the best players at that position in franchise history.

Rudolph moved atop the all-time touchdowns list by Vikings tight ends with his 29th in the season finale, and also set a single-season record with his 83 receptions.

"You know, it was an honor to be mentioned in the same category as a lot of those former tight ends," Rudolph said. "Some are guys I've played with – Jim Kleinsasser, Visanthe Shiancoe – and some guys that I either grew up watching or have learned about through the history of the Vikings. To be mentioned with guys like Joe Senser and Steve Jordan, it's an honor.

"It's definitely not something that I think about when I come here as a 21-year-old rookie just trying to make an impact on this team," Rudolph said. "But as the opportunities come, you're grateful and you're thankful for all the guys you've had around you – for me, over the past six years – to put you in that situation."

The former Notre Dame standout was a key component to Sam Bradford's success in 2016, especially after the quarterback joined the Vikings just eight days before the starts of the season.

Bradford's first touchdown pass in Purple, and three of his first four passing scores, all went to Rudolph. The tight end eventually hauled in more than one-third (seven of 20) of Bradford's touchdown passes.

"It's pretty incredible what he was able to do last season, given the fact that he reported here 15 days before his first start," Rudolph said. "And the season that he was able to have on such short notice, the chemistry that he was able to gain with not only myself but all the other receivers, really speaks volumes to how he prepares as a player – both on the practice field but in the meeting room, as well.

"So it's definitely beneficial for us having this offseason, get more and more reps together, spend more time together," Rudolph added.

While Rudolph consistently produced for the Vikings offense in 2016, he also experienced one of life's greatest joys off the field.

Rudolph and his wife, Jordan, welcome twin girls — Andersyn and Finley — in October. The girls were born on Oct. 5, two days after Rudolph caught five passes for 55 yards and a score in a 24-10 win over the Giants on Monday Night Football.

"It's been an incredible journey. The girls are awesome," Rudolph said. "I have a phenomenal wife who kind of just allows me to stay out of the way – she does all the work, and I just try not to ruin her routine.

"But it's getting fun. Almost (10) months, they're crawling around, they've always got a smile on their face, starting to recognize when I get home from work and they get excited, so it's getting to be a lot of fun as a father," Rudolph added.

Rudolph and veterans are scheduled to report to Verizon Vikings Training Camp in Mankato on July 26. Prior to that, he is hosting a two-day football camp for grades 1 through 8 on July 17-18.

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