Tight end Kyle Rudolph is not sweating a changing role that has seen him fade into the background of the Vikings’ pass game while staying busy in the trenches of a run-first offense.
He is coming off the biggest receiving day of his season with four catches for 63 yards against the Bears on Monday night.
Rudolph is the ironman among active NFL tight ends, leading with 90 straight regular-season starts, but he’s tied for 28th at the position with just 18 catches this season.
“That has evolved over the last year and a half,” Rudolph said. “You never know as a pass catcher when your big night’s going to come. So for me, I always prepare myself each and every week as if that week’s going to be the week. But at the same time, I know that whether I have one target or 10 targets in the pass game, there’s still going to be 55 to 60 other plays.”
Cowboys’ Lawrence questionable
Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who leads Dallas with seven tackles for loss, is listed as questionable to play against the Vikings because of an illness that kept him from practice Thursday and Friday. Defensive end Randy Gregory (illness) is also listed questionable.
The Cowboys will have quarterback Andy Dalton, who took first-team reps this week after being activated from the COVID-19 reserve list. Dalton returns after missing two starts because of COVID and a concussion.
Third-year tight end Tyler Conklin drew strong reviews from Vikings coach Mike Zimmer after he stepped in for injured Irv Smith Jr. and played 63% of the snaps at Chicago. Conklin caught both targets for 11 yards and would continue to play the No. 2 role if Smith, who is listed questionable with a groin injury, is sidelined again Sunday.
“[Conklin] is tough, and he’s grown up and matured a lot as far as his blocking,” Zimmer said. “I’ve been more impressed with him catching the ball this year. He catches the ball great, contested catches.”