The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

July 28, 2013

Rudolph needs to give more in 2013

Pro Bowler Rudolph is team's top returning pass catcher

(Continued)

Going into training camp, head coach Leslie Frazier added to Rudolph's responsibilities, calling on him among the young veterans he's hoping emerges as a team leader. Rudolph was a little surprised to get mentioned in the same leadership group as established veterans such as Jared Allen and Kevin Williams.

"It means a lot to me, that the head coach thinks that and expects that of me," Rudolph said. "It's what I expect of myself and to know that others expect that of you as well, it helps you when you're out on the field and you're pushed into that leadership role. … You can't be a leader if no one's following you, and to know that guys are behind you it definitely makes it a little bit easier to make sure you're out there and leading some of the guys on our team."

Rudolph admitted that he's more of a lead-by-example guy than a rah-rah, locker-room-speech guy.

"The big thing for me is making sure I'm always doing the right thing, whether that's on the practice field or off the practice field.," he said.

The experience of last season, one in which he established a rapport with quarterback Christian Ponder and saw his reception total more than double from his rookie year, put him in that position.

"The big thing for me last year was just gaining another year of experience throughout the season and having a little bit of a playoff taste," Rudolph said, "and then going on to the pro bowl, being around the best players in our game, getting to talk to some of them, seeing how they go about their business throughout a year."

The Vikings' receiving corps has undergone a makeover from last year, with the addition of veteran free agent Greg Jennings and first-round draft pick Cordarrelle Patterson. And, of course, Peterson remains a focal point of the offense. Whether he's catching more passes or blocking for the team's superstar, Rudolph will be part of what he think will be a more balanced offense full of weapons.

"He had a terrific spring," Musgrave said. "He is a little heavier than he has been (258 pounds), but that is good weight. He is definitely stronger, and you know we pride the tight ends to be a big part of the running game. He did that last year, he is ready to do it again."

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