Vikings' Kyle Rudolph likens his many surgeries to 'getting my teeth cleaned'
EAGAN, Minn. — Kyle Rudolph had surgery during the offseason. So what else is new?
The Vikings tight end had a procedure in February to repair a severely sprained right ankle that bothered him late last season. He considered it routine.
"I've had five surgeries in the last 10 years," the eight-year veteran said Tuesday, June 5, following a practice during organized team activities. "It's funny when you sit there, the nurses are getting ready for pre-op, and the doctors are talking to you. I honestly feel like I'm in the dentist office getting my teeth cleaned."
Nevertheless, Rudolph didn't expect to do a lot of work in spring drills. But there he was Tuesday participating in team drills.
"It's a ton of fun to be back out there competing, for me especially," Rudolph said. "The plan was for me not to be doing anything right now. Thankfully, I get to work with the best training staff in our game .... They got me to a point where I am able to go out there a few weeks early, and it's good."
That has given Rudolph more time to work with new Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. Rudolph likes how tight ends were involved when DeFilippo was Cleveland's offensive coordinator in 2015 and Philadelphia's quarterbacks coach the past two years.
"Being just a fan of the game, I've seen what he's done in the past," Rudolph said. "What he was able to do in 2015 with (Browns tight end) Gary Barnidge, and then obviously last year. (Zach) Ertz had an unbelievable year."
Ertz caught 74 passes for 824 yards for the Eagles and was named to the Pro Bowl. When Philadelphia made the Super Bowl, Rudolph took Ertz's spot in the Pro Bowl.
Rudolph caught 57 passes for 532 yards in 2017. He sprained his ankle in Week 14 at Carolina, and it hampered him the rest of the season.
"He's worked real hard," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said of Rudolph's recovery. "It's good to see him out there this week."
Zimmer turns 62
Zimmer turned 62 on Tuesday, and his players gave him the best gift he could expect.
No, it wasn't their singing "Happy Birthday" for the second straight year. It was what they did on the field.
"It was bad singing," Zimmer said. "No presents. Good practice was a good present."
Zimmer called the eighth practice during OTAs "one of the better ones that we had." He said it was better than Monday's workout.
"It's still a work in progress with the offense, I think," he said. "Defensively, I thought we moved around better (Tuesday). I thought we covered things tighter. I told them (Monday) that I thought we'd been milling around here a little bit. I realized it wasn't their fault, it was my fault. They got the old Zim back now."
Not practicing for the Vikings on Tuesday were defensive end Everson Griffen, defensive tackle Jalyn Holmes, safety Andrew Sendejo, cornerback Trevon Mathis and wide receivers Stacy Coley and Jeff Badet. Griffen, also out last week, has worn a wrap on his left knee. "We thought he'd be back a little this week, but it may be next week (during minicamp) and it may not be," Zimmer said. "We're really not going to push it."
In practices open this spring to the media, rookie Daniel Carlson has looked better than Kai Forbath in the battle to be Minnesota's kicker. On Tuesday, against a slight breeze, Forbath was short and wide right on a 50-yard attempt. Carlson then split the uprights with a 50-yarder that might have been good from 60.
University of Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck attended Tuesday's practice. He chatted with some players, including receiver Adam Thielen. "Just wanted to tell him I got a lot of respect and I'm excited about what that program can do," said Thielen, who had met Fleck once before for a brief introduction.
After initially trying undrafted free agent Hercules Mata'afa at linebacker, the Vikings have moved Mata'afa, a defensive lineman at Washington State, to defensive end.