Growing up in Cincinnati, tight end Kyle Rudolph watched plenty of Bengals games as a kid, especially during the Carson Palmer era. Rudolph was in the eighth grade when the Bengals drafted Palmer first overall in 2003.

Palmer twice represented the Bengals in the Pro Bowl and twice led them to the playoffs. Once was in 2005, when he tore his ACL in a playoff loss to the Steelers. Still, Rudolph credits Palmer, now quarterbacking the Cardinals, for helping his hometown Bengals become what they are today.

“That was kind of the first time the Bengals were really relevant in my childhood. It was since they brought Carson to Cincinnati,” said Rudolph, who went to Elder High in Cincinnati. “He kind of rebuilt that franchise and I think he deserves a lot of credit for where they are now.”

And Palmer deserves a lot of credit for where the Cardinals, the Vikings’ opponents Thursday night, are now, too. Palmer has thrown for 3,693 yards and 29 touchdowns to lead the Cardinals to a 10-2 record.

Rudolph also had praise for Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, the Minnesota native who recorded his 1,000th career catch on Sunday in Arizona’s win over St. Louis. Fitzgerald has 91 catches for 1,047 yards and seven touchdowns this season, his best numbers in a few years.

“I don’t think there’s a more professional guy in our game. All that Larry’s done for me in my career, kind of taking me under his wing early in my career, helping me,” Rudolph said. “I’m happy for him. I’m glad he got to 1,000 catches last week. Hopefully that’s behind him and we don’t have to worry about him catching too many balls this week.”

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