Rudolph hoping less weight means more stamina

Kyle Rudolph lost weight for a number of reasons, and it appears to have been a wise decision all the way around.

Weight loss hasn’t made Kyle Rudolph more difficult to find. In his case, less (weight) means more (production). At least that’s the theory.

Rudolph shed 15 pounds in the offseason, down to 260, and is finding that that there are more benefits other than just increased speed.

“I’d like to think I’ve always been fast, but losing the weight definitely helps. I feel like not only can I run better, but I feel like I can run longer,” Rudolph said. “You don’t have that nine-, 10-play drive where you’re breathing heavy and then you get into the red zone. It’s like, this is the time to make a play. (If) you’re too tired to make it because of the weight or whatever, but I definitely feel better.”

It showed. Rudolph had an impressive night Saturday in the Minnesota Vikings’ second preseason game. He was Minnesota’s most targeted receiver on the field, thrown at five times and coming up with four catches for 89 yards. The one time his massive catch radius didn’t accept the delivery is the one that will weigh on him most.

“That’s the play that I’ll probably watch the most over the next couple of days. We got the coverage that we wanted. Matt made a great check,” Rudolph said. “I came out a little too flat. I’ve got to keep my route a little higher.”

No matter what went wrong on the technical aspect of route-running, Rudolph still had a chance at the third-down toss in the end zone at the end of the Vikings’ first drive. Matt Cassel gave him a ball that Rudolph got his monster hands on and just couldn’t secure.

The Vikings had to settle for a field goal instead of answering the Arizona Cardinals’ first touchdown drive with their own.

No matter. Rudolph finished the job in a big way on the next series, giving the Vikings a 10-7 lead when he caught a deep crossing route in stride on first down and sprinted for the end zone for a 51-yard touchdown.

“I think the vertical passing game is a big part of what we want to do. Any time you have your number called, you want to take advantage,” Rudolph said. “Jerick McKinnon, I think he was the one that ran the corner off on my deep corner route. There’s just so many guys that have to be accounted for, I kind of get lost in the shuffle.

“(On the touchdown), we got the coverage we expected – single safety and I got across the field. Although I’d like to think I would have outran all those guys, Jerick McKinnon came back and made a huge block and I was able to just walk in.”

Rudolph was on pace for a career year last year when he broke his foot in the eighth game of the season toward the end of a touchdown play. Through eight games, only Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson were targeted more, and Rudolph was on track to beat his career high in receptions (53) and yardage (493) from 2012.

This year, in addition to the weight loss, there is another reason for Rudolph’s excitement – his new offensive coordinator, Norv Turner.

“I think it’s Norv’s unique ability to dial up plays at the right time,” Rudolph said. “He sees things coverage-wise. We get to the sideline and he makes adjustments. He’s been doing it for a long time and he’s really good at what he does. We have so many weapons on our offense. I can’t say it enough.

“We don’t even have our biggest weapon (Adrian Peterson) out there yet. You add that factor to things. (Norv) just sits up there and he has that unique sense to dial up plays.”

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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