Once a week, Mark Craig will get on and off the field quickly, then focus a spotlight on a player and a coach.


Kyle Rudolph, Vikings ‘Ironman’

There was a time when the biggest knock on Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph was his lack of durability. After earning a Pro Bowl trip in his second season in 2012, Rudolph missed 15 of the next 32 games. He missed eight games in 2013 and seven in 2014.

Well, now he heads into Sunday night’s game against the visiting Packers as one of the NFL’s 15 current “ironmen.” He’ll play in his 60th consecutive regular-season game, which ranks No. 1 among active NFL tight ends. Washington’s Vernon Davis is second at 54. The only other Viking close to the top of the ironmen list at his position is Adam Thielen. His 74 consecutive games ranks fourth.

The longest streak in the league is 203 games and belongs to Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. It would belong to Eli Manning at 225 if former Giants coach Ben McAdoo hadn’t benched him for a game right before being fired late last season.

Here’s how Rudolph’s “ironman” streak stacks up against the leaders at the other positions:

203 Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers

202 Sam Koch, P, Ravens

186 Mason Crosby, K, Packers

170 Julius Peppers, DE, Panthers

170 Brandon Carr, CB, Ravens

143 Glover Quin, S, Lions

123 Ryan Kerrigan, LB, Redskins

122 Frank Gore, RB, Dolphins

117 Demaryius Thomas, WR, Texans

110 Ndamukong Suh, DT, Rams

107 Mitchell Schwartz, OT, Chiefs

106 Ben Jones, C, Titans

91 Anthony Sherman, FB, Chiefs

75 Zack Martin, G, Cowboys

59 Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings


Bobby Wagner, Seahawks linebacker

The 5-5 Seahawks can leap into the thick of the NFC wild-card race by beating a Panthers team that has lost two straight. But Carolina is at home, where it’s 5-0. Wagner will be a pivotal part of slowing a Panthers run game that’s No. 3 in yards per carry (5.01). He hasn’t missed a tackle all season and he has the ability to cover Christian McCaffrey, who leads Carolina in receptions as well as rushing. Last week: Josh Reynolds, WR, Rams, caught six passes for 80 yards and a TD in a 54-51 win over Kansas City.


Mike McCarthy, Packers coach

He has a Super Bowl ring, six division titles and nine playoff appearances in his first 12 seasons as Packers coach. His 121 wins through 12 seasons ranked behind only Don Shula (128), Tony Dungy (127) and Joe Gibbs (124). But … McCarthy also sits upon one of the league’s coaching hot seats. As the creative Bears have zoomed past the Packers and Vikings, McCarthy’s team looks stale, even with Aaron Rodgers healthy. The Packers are 0-5 on the road heading into Sunday night’s game against the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. A loss would drop the Packers to 4-6-1 and most likely sink their playoff chances for good.