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State of the Vikings: Tight Ends

EAGAN, Minn. – The median age of Minnesota's tight ends is 24.5 years old.

Kyle Rudolph, 27, is the only one in the room who was born in the '80s, barely squeaking into the decade in November of '89.

Entering his eighth NFL season, Rudolph has developed into a natural leader and helps his younger teammates grow their skill sets.

David Morgan, whom the Vikings drafted in 2016, said he learns from watching the way Rudolph carries himself on and off the field.

"For a guy who's been in the league and been in every situation and played a million plays … he's just one of those guys who, every day he comes in and works on stuff," Morgan said. "People say, 'Work on the small things,' and he really does. He's one of those guys who's so attentive to detail and yardage, and how his feet work, how he steps, how he runs routes."

Added Morgan: "He's just a good guy who really pays attention to the game."

From Rudolph to the rookies, the Vikings tight ends are looking to build on last year's success and capitalize on depth within the position group in 2018.

Returning Players: Blake Bell, David Morgan, Josiah Price, Kyle Rudolph

New Additions: Tyler Conklin, Tyler Hoppes

Stat from 2017: Rudolph and Morgan combined for 627 receiving yards and scored nine of the Vikings 40 touchdowns during the regular season. Rudolph, who racked up 532 yards on 57 catches, made his second career Pro Bowl appearance six years after being named the Pro Bowl MVP as a rookie.

View the best images of the Vikings tight ends throughout the 2018 offseason program at the TCO Performance Center.

From the Position Room: Vikings tight ends coach Clancy Barone is entering his second season with Minnesota and 15th in the NFL. He has coached for the Falcons (2004-06), Chargers (2007-08) and Broncos (2009-16).

Barone recently sat down with Vikings.com's Mike Wobschall and answered a bevy of questions regarding the 2018 tight ends room.

When it comes to Rudolph, Barone said the two-time Pro Bowler is "the same guy every day."

"He is a pro's pro. He is going to know everything about the offense, he is going to study," Barone said. "I'll get a text around 10:15 p.m. with him asking some question about the film, because he is still studying our practice tape in June at [that hour].

"There are not a lot of guys that, I think, do it that way, but Kyle does – but that is who he is," Barone continued. "That will never change. That is also why he is going to be one of the best tight ends in the history of the Vikings franchise when it's all said and done."

Rudolph may be the most experienced guy in the room, but Barone is confident in the depth of talent at tight end.

Barone referred to the 2017 season when Morgan played extra reps for a dinged-up Rudolph and came up with a "crucial" play on third-and-15 for a first down.

"That's just one play out of the season, but Dave also had a very solid spring in catching the football, and [it's] something that he has spent a lot of time on this offseason and trying to make that a bigger part of his game," Barone said, adding that Morgan has gained a reputation as a blocker but is showing another facet to his game that was observed at the college level.

Barone highlighted Bell as another player who can stretch the field and contribute significantly on special teams.

When asked about Conklin, whom the Vikings snagged with the 157th overall draft pick, Barone said the tight end out of Central Michigan "seemed to be a guy who could do it all."

"He's very versatile," Barone said. "He had great production in his senior year in the pass game, but he also was involved in a West Coast system earlier on in his career and was used more in line and things of that nature, so [he's] a guy that we thought could come in and certainly add depth for us."

Quotables:

"For me, going into year eight, there's still a ton of room for improvement. I feel like I haven't scratched the surface of my potential and what I want to do with my career, and I think last year, getting so close as a team to our ultimate goal has just kind of lit a fire inside of me to do a little bit more this year in this offseason. To make sure, not only are we back where we were last year, but we take that next step and get to the next game and finish it like we all want."

– Rudolph

"We get to go against the No. 1 defense every day. We're getting guys – B-Rob (Brian Robison), Ev' (Everson Griffen), Danielle [Hunter], Linval [Joseph] – all these guys, Harry (Harrison Smith), all our linebacking corps. It's incredible. Those guys have a big part in what we can do on offense because we get to see the best of the best when we're practicing. Getting those looks from them really helps us elevate our game on game day."

– Morgan

"Coach Barone has been helping me a ton technique-wise and ways to learn the playbook, just overall football knowledge. The same with [Offensive Coordinator John] DeFilippo – I love him so far. The offense, I love the way we run our offense, and especially the way we use our tight ends. I'm extremely excited to play for both of them."

– Conklin on learning under new coaches at the NFL level

Tickets are still available for 2018 Verizon Vikings Training Camp at the TCO Performance Center for select dates.Click hereto access more information.

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