Teddy Bridgewater made it halfway through an answer about the new guy, Mike Wallace, before interrupting himself to offer praise to Kyle Rudolph.
“I’ll tell you, what’s even a better addition is have Kyle Rudolph back healthy,” Bridgewater said. “He’s like a whole new player on the team.”
To be fair, that is typical Teddy. He often steers the conversation toward other teammates, like when he randomly remarked after a game last season that Vlad Ducasse was one of the faces of the franchise. But Bridgewater’s point remains: The Vikings are pumped to add Rudolph back into the mix.
They expected big things from Rudolph last season, and the lucrative contract extension they gave him during training camp was proof of that.
But three games and 10 catches into the 2014 season, Rudolph needed to have sports hernia surgery. He missed seven games. And just when he was starting to look like himself again, Rudolph injured his ankle and knee.
All in all, Rudolph played nine games, catching 24 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns. It was his second straight season derailed by injuries.
Rudolph is determined to play all 16 games this season, and earlier this offseason he talked about how excited he is to click with Bridgewater.
“You see what my position is capable of in this offense,” Rudolph said. “I’ve proven that throughout the course of a 16-game season, when I’m out there every week, I’m one of the best players at my position.”
If the Vikings didn’t feel the same, they wouldn’t be paying him big bucks.
It is waaaaaay too early for media folks like me to draw conclusions. Today is the team’s third OTA of the offseason, and we have been allowed to watch one of them. But yesterday, when we were present, Bridgewater and Rudolph displayed some chemistry, with Bridgewater finding Rudolph in the middle when the defense was focused on Wallace or Charles Johnson.
We will see if that continues — and if Rudolph can reach his goal of playing in 16 games. But one can see why Bridgewater is excited to have him back.