If Matt Kalil can play halfway decent like he did last night, and if the team can stay healthy like they did last night, then I dare say that this Vikings offense has the ingredients to be as good (if not better) than what we all witnessed in 2009.
One thing that stuck out to me during the Hall of Fame Game in Canton was just how talented and deep we look to be at the tight end position. Somewhat int he shadow of Adrian Peterson’s return and the acquisition of some speedy receivers, I’m thinking Teddy Bridgewater’s “safety blankets” could be some of our best weapons throughout the 2015 season.
Of all the starters, albeit in very limited action, it was tight end Kyle Rudolph that impressed me the most. Bridgewater targeted him twice on the opening drive. Both passes were caught, both went for first downs, and Rudolph showed some tenacity as he shed three tackles to gain his 22 yards of production.
As fantasy football players everywhere will be quick to point out, the problem with Rudolph isn’t his potential and talent, it always seems to be his ability to come out of a game unscathed. He’s missed 15 games over the last two seasons and, according to a recent Pioneer Press article, he knows something needs to change.
“I’m doing everything that I can to put myself in a situation to be healthy every Sunday,” Rudolph said. “For me, it’s just about eating cleaner; my weight never has been an issue. … For me, it’s about eating food that will help me recover faster and make sure that I’m getting the proper amount of protein and carbohydrates in my body after a workout.”
If Rudolph’s backups are needed yet again, however, even that unfortunate scenario is looking to be improved since last year with the addition of athletic rookie MyCole Pruitt.
Pruitt caught all four of his targets in Canton, including a blown coverage lob that made for an easy 34 yard scamper to the end zone. He ended the night with a team-leading 51 receiving yards, rave reviews regarding his blocking efforts, and plenty of buzz from the purple faithful.
“The guy is very fast. He’s had great hands all camp,” head coach Mike Zimmer said following the game. “That showed up a couple of times tonight. I think he’s going to continue to get better. He’s a good kid.”
The versatile Rhett Ellison will likely be unheralded throughout most of his career, but that’s only due to the lack of flashy plays… not a lack of talent. Ellison is a hard-nosed blocker that can move to fullback, is a decent enough receiver, and would be a shocking omission from the final 53-man roster.
Chase Ford had his name called more than Ellison on Sunday night, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Ford ended the night with two targets, no catches, and let one pass squeeze out of his hands and land in the arms of Steelers defender Kevin Foggs for the turnover.
Even Ford, however, has shown enough in his time with the Vikings to still garner plenty of support for a roster spot.
With others stealing the headlines, the tight ends stole the show during the preseason, and that is the NFL equivalent of comfort food for fans looking for every possible reason for optimism.