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Vikings Rudolph Joins Elite Company at TE Position

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Life is great for Kyle Rudolph.

The Vikings tight end is off to a strong start to the 2016 season, hauling in 19 catches for 221 yards.

Rudolph has also caught a touchdown in three consecutive games to help the Vikings move to 4-0 ahead of Sunday's noon (CT) matchup against Houston at U.S. Bank Stadium. 

Off the field, Rudolph and his wife, Jordan, welcomed twin girls — Finley Claire and Andersyn Kate — late Tuesday night.

"Now I have two sets of eyes on me all the time watching as 'Dad' out there," Rudolph said Friday in the Vikings locker room. "On the field, I just try to be accountable. When my number is called upon, whether it's in the pass game or in the run game, that I execute.

"That's the mentality that I've always had," he added. "Just now we're winning games, and that definitely helps everything out."

Rudolph said he couldn't find the words to describe the happiness of being a father for the first time.

"Being there in the delivery from and seeing the miracle that is childbirth is unbelievable," Rudolph said. "One minute they're inside my wife's stomach and the next minute they're breathing, crying, sleeping.

"Everyone told me it's the best thing that will happen to you and the best thing in your life and until you go through it, you won't have a perspective of it," he added. "Now I do, and it's been a lot of excitement and joy."

Rudolph said that his daughters are expected to be released from the hospital on Friday.

The 26-year-old noted he's ready to tackle fatherhood straight on — even in the middle of the season.

"I'm getting more sleep than my wife," Rudolph said with a smile. "She's got to get up to feed them every three hours.

 "We're excited to get them home and get back to the house. I think it'll finally settle in once we get home and get settled," he added. "I get to go see them after work every day but I don't really feel like a dad yet."

Back between the white lines, Rudolph's sizzling start has put him in elite company among peers at his position.

Rudolph is one of seven active tight ends to have recorded at least 200 receptions, 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns with his current team.

The other six players are San Diego's Antonio Gates, Jason Witten of the Cowboys, New England's Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olsen of the Panthers, Jacksonville's Marcedes Lewis and Brent Celek of the Eagles. Rudolph is the youngest on the list.

The Vikings defeated Olsen and the Panthers in Week 3 in Carolina and are scheduled to play Celek, Witten and Lewis later this season.

Rudolph, a second-round draft pick in 2011, said he hardly thinks about his place in history among tight ends.

Instead, he's focused on having another productive game and helping the Vikings stay unbeaten.

"It all goes so fast, I can't believe it's already my sixth season," Rudolph said. "I hope that I'm here for a long time, and we look back at those numbers and they're distant.

"I love it here and want to be here for a while," he added. "Right now I want to keep making plays to help us get to 5-0, and then we'll go from there."

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