View some of the best images of the tight ends from 2015.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — After missing half of last season because of multiple injuries, tight end Kyle Rudolph returned to start every game in 2015.
The result was one of the best seasons of Rudolph's career.
The former Notre Dame standout had 49 catches for 495 yards, totals that were good for the second-most on the Vikings.
His five touchdown catches ranked first on the team and tied for ninth in the NFL among tight ends. They were a welcome sight after Rudolph missed seven games in 2014.
Rudolph, who only had 24 catches and two touchdowns last season, seemed to get better as the season went along.
His most notable game came in a Week 11 loss to the Packers in which he caught six passes for a career-high 106 yards, including a career-long 47-yard touchdown.
Rudolph was also instrumental in helping the Vikings nearly get a playoff win, as he was targeted twice on Minnesota's final drive of the game, drawing a 19-yard pass interference penalty and recording a 24-yard reception.
Rudolph said that he's continued to develop a strong bond with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He also used his 265-pound frame to shield defenders from getting to the football.
"Growing up as a basketball player, it's always kind of translated to football for me," said Rudolph, a Second Team All-State selection at his Ohio high school. "It means a lot to me that (Bridgewater) has the trust in me to throw balls when guys are around because as a tight end, the catches we have to make are the contested catches and catches in traffic.
"Teddy [Bridgewater] has shown throughout the season that he has the trust in me to throw balls when guys are around," he added.
Rudolph fell short in topping his career year from 2012 — 53 catches for 493 yards and nine scores — but he'll likely be one of Bridgewater's favorite targets going forward.
Rudolph produced the most eye-popping stats of Minnesota's three tight ends, but Rhett Ellison and MyCole Pruitt also contributed in big ways.
Ellison, a fourth-year player out of Southern California, hauled in 11 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown.
But teammates and coaches praised Ellison for his selfless attitude and commitment to blocking, a trait that helped running back Adrian Peterson lead the league with 1,485 rushing yards.
Ellison was lost for the season in Week 17's win over the Packers with a knee injury.
"Rhett is a guy who can really do an awful lot of things," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said after Ellison's injury. "He helps in protection and helps with blocking in the running-game. He has done a good job, really, with everything. He is a smart guy. Rhett is a good football player and probably even a better person."
Rookie tight end MyCole Pruitt, who chipped in with 10 catches for 89 yards, saw his role increase as the season went along.
Pruitt was the Vikings fifth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
The chart below shows receiving statistics for Vikings tight ends and the entire team in 2015.