Kyle Rudolph, entering his fifth season, has been a Pro Bowl tight end, so you can bet his job with the Vikings is safe.
But the team will have to make some decisions behind him. Rhett Ellison, in his fourth season, is considered one of the best athletes on the team. Third-year guy Chase Ford stepped in last year when Rudolph was injured and had some nice moments. Rookie MyCole Pruitt was a camp sensation until suffering an ankle injury. And Brandon Bostick, who came over after the Packers axed him following the NFC title game fumble on a crucial onside kick, is a third-year pro.
“Rhett has always been a guy that’s been a tough guy that we ask to do a lot of things,” said coach Mike Zimmer when asked about the tight ends playing behind Rudolph. “He always shows up, he always works hard. He’s getting better at catching the ball. Pruitt is a guy that was really, really moving good until this last injury. I think he’s got a very, very good future. And Chase Ford, when he gets in there he does a lot of really good things, catching the football in the passing game that creates some mismatches for people.
“Bostick is still learning a lot of the stuff that we’re trying to do.”
Seems like Bostick has a way to go to make the team. His playing time has been limited, and he’s the only one of the group who hasn’t caught a preseason pass; Ford has six catches for 31 yards, Rudolph five for 50, Pruitt four for 51 and Ellison one for 13.
Rudolph said the tight ends have great camaraderie in their meeting room.
“That’s been a standard throughout my years here,” Rudolph said. “We always seem to have one of the closest rooms, and that doesn’t change based on competition. We just make each other better every day.”
Having five preseason games, and an extra week of preseason practices, to show their stuff is an added bonus for the backup tight ends.
“It’s definitely long,” Rudolph said of the extended time the Vikings got because they played in the Hall of Fame Game. “At the beginning of the preseason it made training camp go quicker, getting that first game right away. But now getting to the fourth preseason game, we still have two left, it’s definitely a grind.”
The Vikings flew to Dallas today and have preseason game four against the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium Saturday at 6 p.m.