Kyle Rudolph has done everything a friend could ask for while supporting Vikings teammate Michael Floyd.
He has given his old wide receiver buddy from Notre Dame a place to stay since joining the Vikings in May. He’s helped him learn the team’s offense through the offseason. And now, thanks to a rule change that came with the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA), Rudolph and the rest of the organization can help Floyd weather a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Floyd can’t practice or attend games, but he can attend meetings, work out on his own and do all other non-football activities at the team’s facility.
“We’ll do everything except go in the backyard and throw the football around,” Rudolph said. “I’m not sure what the rule says about that. But I bet we could. Gisele [Bundchen] caught passes from Tom [Brady] when Tom was suspended last year.”
Yes, she did. And, yes, it made for a much prettier Instagram photo than anything Kyle and Michael could muster.
“That’s OK,” the big tight end said. “I can’t throw the ball anyway.”
On a more serious note, Rudolph says Floyd is taking his suspension, well, seriously. And now Floyd has four games to think deeper about that extreme drunken driving arrest that cost him four games and pushed his NFL career to the brink of extinction if there’s another slip-up in his personal life.
That’s one of many reasons it helps being able to stay around the team, as opposed to the time when suspended players were told to leave and not come back until the suspension was over.
“I think that’s really important not only for him and making sure he’s staying on the right path but being able to come in and stay related to the football part,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “I think [it’s] much, much better than having a guy go away from the facility for a number of weeks.”
Floyd had a strong training camp and clearly was one of the top three receivers in Mankato. But the 6-3, 220-pounder had a quiet preseason, with five catches for 46 yards, no touchdowns and a long of 12 yards. The preseason ended with him being targeted twice and not catching a ball in Thursday’s 30-9 loss to Miami.
“I think I did all right,” Floyd said. “I think I gradually got better each and every single day. It’s always tough coming into a new offense, but when you have good teammates and good coaching and you always stay in the playbook, it comes natural.”
Zimmer was asked if he saw enough of Floyd in the preseason games to know what he’ll give the team when the suspension is over.
“I did,” he said. “He does a lot of really good things that do not show up on the stat lines. He’s an excellent blocker, he’s physical, he makes contested catches. I think he’s really good with that. I think Sam [Bradford] has good flow with him as well.”
The Vikings kept six receivers. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are the starters. Laquon Treadwell is being given the chance to fill the No. 3 receiver role, with Jarius Wright and rookies Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley pushing him.
Adams, Coley or possibly Wright could be released to make room for Floyd when he’s eligible to return. And, according to Floyd, he will be ready as soon as he is eligible.
“I think I’ll be in a great position [to return],” he said. “Just keeping myself in the playbook and knowing what’s going on. … Just working out like I always do. … Put in a little extra work so when I do get out there, it will be a great transition.”
And if Rudolph can’t or won’t throw to him?
“He’s got the Jugs machine,” said Rudolph.
Of course, finding a live arm in the Twin Cities is easier when you’re a St. Paul native and former Cretin-Derham Hall star.
“I’m sure I could call up somebody,” Floyd said.