Craig: Vikings teammates Rudolph, Carlson have unique bond

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 13, 2013 - 11:31 AM
hide

Minnesota Vikings tight end John Carlson.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Rivals.com chose Cincinnati Elder’s Kyle Rudolph as the No. 1 high school tight end in the country in 2007. Michigan, Tennessee and the home-state Buckeyes were in the mix to sign the lanky 6-6, 220-pounder. But Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis had the recruiting tool that trumped all others.

“He had John Carlson,” Rudolph said of his current Vikings teammate. “Every time I visited South Bend, Coach Weis always made sure John was my host.”

Weis had done his homework. He knew what Carlson, a senior tight end at the time, meant to Rudolph.

“The whole time I was in high school, I talked to my dad [Dan], who is a football coach, about who I wanted to be like,” Rudolph said. “It was always, ‘I want to be like John. One day maybe I’ll be able to do what John did at Notre Dame.’ I always looked up to John.”

Carlson, who is quiet, remembers meeting Rudolph, who might have been even quieter.

“He wasn’t nearly as thick as he is now,” Carlson said. “He was just this very tall, very skinny kid. They kept telling me he was going to be someone special.”

On Rudolph’s first visit, they went to see the movie “300,” a tale about King Leonidas leading 300 Spartans into battle against 300,000 Persians. Rudolph was outnumbered as well.

“It was John, me and Danielle,” said Rudolph, referring to Carlson’s then-girlfriend, former Notre Dame volleyball captain and current wife. “It was a pretty cool time though.”

Rudolph chose Notre Dame. Carlson went on to the NFL, joining Seattle as the 38th overall draft pick before catching 12 touchdown passes in his first two seasons. Three years later, Rudolph went on to the NFL, joining the Vikings as the 43rd overall pick before catching 12 touchdowns in his first two seasons.

Last year, Carlson, a Litchfield, Minn., native, returned home, leaving his visit with the Chiefs to sign a five-year, $25 million deal with the Vikings. The plan was in place to incorporate both pass-catching tight ends into an offense that would attempt to mimic what the Patriots were able to do with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

But the plan was scrapped. A knee injury in training camp cost Carlson the entire preseason and a concussion interrupted his regular season.

“Last year was frustration,” Carlson said. “It was just setback after setback. Injuries happen in football, but it was disappointing for them to happen when they did, joining a new team and wanting to prove myself to everybody. It was tough to not feel like I was contributing.”

A concussion had knocked Carlson out of a divisional playoff game at Chicago during the 2010 season. A shoulder injury had landed him on injured reserve for all of 2011. And 2012 would end with a mere eight catches for 43 yards.

“The worst part had to be the first four to six weeks in 2011,” Carlson said. “I didn’t have an active role in anything. My arm was in a sling, I couldn’t rehab yet and for the first time, I’m on injured reserve. So, really, it was the first time since I was a young kid that I wasn’t a part of a team. That hit me harder than I thought it would, just not having football as part of my identity, part of my life.”

Carlson has been healthy for all nine games this season. And his blocking has, according to coach Leslie Frazier, “improved vastly.” But it wasn’t until last Thursday’s 34-27 victory over Washington that Carlson regained some of his long lost identity as a pass-catching threat.

Of course, it took Rudolph’s fractured left foot to provide Carlson with the kind of opportunities he hadn’t seen since 2009. Playing Rudolph’s ‘Y’ tight end spot, Carlson responded with seven catches for 98 yards and his first touchdown since the 2010 postseason.

He entered the game with 11 catches on the season and hadn’t caught seven passes in a game since 2009. And the yardage total was 7 shy of the career high he posted as a rookie.

Next up: a trip back to Seattle to face his former team for the first time. Carlson missed last year’s meeting because of a concussion.

  • related content

  • Asiata returns to Vikings with heavy heart

    Wednesday November 13, 2013

    The running back's father was killed in a bus accident two weeks ago.

  • Mark Craig's Week 11 NFL power rankings

    Tuesday November 12, 2013

    Week 11 power rankings1. Broncos 8-12. Seahawks 9-13. Chiefs 9-04. Patriots 7-25. Panthers 6-36. Lions 6-37. Saints 7-28. 49ers 6-39. Jets 5-410. Cardinals 5-411. Rams 4-612. Colts 6-313. Giants 3-614. Eagles 5-515. Ravens 4-516. Bengals 6-417....

  • Read the replay: Access Vikings Live Chat with Chip Scoggins

    Monday September 9, 2013

    See what Chip Scoggins and Vikings fans were talking about during their weekly Live Chat.

  • Target Center vote resurrects Vikings debate

    Tuesday November 12, 2013

    Minneapolis City Council gave a green light to nearly $100 million in improvements and fought over whether law needed to...

  • Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) broke away from a Dallas defender...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 2 FINAL
St. Louis 5
Washington 9 FINAL
Atlanta 8
Miami 5 FINAL
Boston 3
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 1
Baltimore 4 Bottom 7th Inning
Toronto 4
Detroit - LP: J. Mantiply 4 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: C. Torres 5
Cincinnati 0 Bottom 5th Inning
Chicago Cubs 0
Los Angeles 8 Bottom 4th Inning
Milwaukee 0
San Francisco 7 Top 5th Inning
Texas 2
Chicago WSox 0 Top 6th Inning
San Diego 2
Kansas City 2 Top 5th Inning
Cleveland 5
Seattle 4 Bottom 6th Inning
Los Angeles 3
Colorado 0 Bottom 5th Inning
LA Angels 2
Oakland 2 Bottom 4th Inning
Arizona 1
Pittsburgh 6:05 PM
NY Yankees
Chicago 6:00 PM
Indiana
Sacramento 6:00 PM
Orlando
Utah 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Miami 6:00 PM
Washington
Toronto 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Cleveland 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Boston 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Detroit 7:00 PM
Houston
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Memphis
Phoenix 7:00 PM
Brooklyn
Denver 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Dallas 9:30 PM
Golden State
Columbus 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 6:30 PM
Detroit
Edmonton 7:30 PM
Chicago
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Longwood 68 FINAL
Char Southern 60
Ark-Pine Bluff 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 75
Southern Ill 45 FINAL
Wichita State 56
Winthrop 67 FINAL
Radford 66
Evansville 37 2nd Half
Illinois State 31
Towson 5:00 PM
Elon
Gardner-Webb 5:00 PM
High Point
Samford 5:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Ball State
Bowling Green 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Brown 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
Toledo 6:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Akron 6:00 PM
Kent State
Ill-Chicago 6:00 PM
Oakland
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Ohio
Columbia 6:00 PM
Penn
Cornell 6:00 PM
Princeton
Central Mich 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Bradley 6:05 PM
Northern Iowa
Morehead State 6:30 PM
Murray State
UNC-Asheville 7:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Yale 7:00 PM
Harvard
Furman 7:30 PM
Citadel
Coll of Charleston 7:30 PM
Drexel
Texas Tech 8:00 PM
Baylor
Pacific 8:00 PM
San Francisco
Detroit 8:30 PM
Cleveland State
Belmont 8:30 PM
Eastern Ky
Loyola-Chicago 8:35 PM
Indiana State
Loyola Marymount 10:30 PM
Santa Clara
Chicago 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
(21) George Washington 77
Wake Forest 68 FINAL
(16) Duke 77
Furman 55 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 68
Monmouth 61 FINAL
Quinnipiac 82
Michigan State 60 FINAL
(4) Maryland 70
Belmont 65 FINAL
UT Martin 71
Arkansas 36 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 58
Mercer 56 FINAL
East Tenn St 66
Richmond 45 FINAL
Fordham 46
Miami-Florida 61 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 77
Siena 61 FINAL
Iona 71
Washington St 48 FINAL
(9) Arizona State 67
Ark-Pine Bluff 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 51
(23) Rutgers 47 2nd Half 7:15
(24) Northwestern 56
Tennessee St 66 2nd Half 1:11
SIU-Edwardsville 57
Loyola Marymount 47 2nd Half 1:23
Gonzaga 68
(18) Texas A&M 39 2nd Half 13:15
LSU 49
Cincinnati 43 2nd Half
UCF 24
Saint Josephs 12 1st Half 13:42
Dayton 16
UCLA 4:00 PM
(19) Stanford
Santa Clara 4:30 PM
San Diego
Virginia Tech 5:00 PM
(7) Florida State
SMU 5:00 PM
Memphis
Lehigh 5:05 PM
Holy Cross
Rhode Island 6:00 PM
Duquesne
North Florida 6:00 PM
(20) Fla Gulf Coast
Kennesaw St 6:00 PM
Jacksonville
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Lipscomb 6:00 PM
Stetson
Nebraska 6:00 PM
(14) Iowa
Saint Peters 6:00 PM
Marist
Navy 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Lafayette 6:00 PM
American Univ
Colgate 6:00 PM
Army
Georgia 6:00 PM
(5) Tennessee
Dartmouth 6:00 PM
Brown
Penn 6:00 PM
Columbia
(13) Princeton 6:00 PM
Cornell
Kansas 6:00 PM
Kansas State
Harvard 6:00 PM
Yale
(15) North Carolina 7:00 PM
(10) Louisville
San Jose St 7:00 PM
UNLV
Houston 7:00 PM
Tulane
Utah State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Colorado 8:00 PM
(8) Oregon State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
Wyoming
Minnesota 8:25 PM
Ohio State
(12) Kentucky 8:25 PM
(11) Miss State
San Diego State 8:30 PM
Nevada
Niagara 8:30 PM
Fairfield
Texas Tech 8:30 PM
West Virginia
Boise State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Washington 10:30 PM
California
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close