Rudolph: Post-bye return is logical

Kyle Rudolph moved to conditioning on land this week and continues his comeback from sports hernia surgery.

Kyle Rudolph is back to training on land, another significant step in his comeback from sports hernia surgery.

The Minnesota Vikings’ top tight end had surgery on Sept. 23 to repair core injuries to both sides of his abdomen and this was the first week that his rehabilitation moved from the pool and specialized treadmills that change the percentage of his body weight to conditioning outdoors.

“Now I’m out here on land running around with my real body weight,” Rudolph said. “I’m starting to get into – nothing intense to consider ready to play a game or to practice – but just taking these first steps this week to put myself in a situation to start getting ready to practice and play in games.”

Rudolph has been running on an unused portion of the Vikings’ practice fields while the team is practicing in the afternoons. He has additional training and rehab work in the mornings and attends the meetings when he isn’t rehabilitating.

He’s making progress, but he isn’t ready to play yet.

“I just don’t feel like I’m myself yet. I haven’t done anything for four weeks. It takes time for your brain to remember how everything works and how it’s supposed to feel,” he said. “For me, it’s just kind of re-establishing those patterns – doing things the right way, even if they’re not the fastest way. That way I don’t establish any bad habits or compensation patterns because things are still remembering what to do.”

Rudolph said the injury occurs over time, and initially he and the training staff believed he would be able to manage the pain that started to become an issue in training camp. Eventually, that hope was dashed and surgery was the decided outcome.

Despite surgery one month ago and still not being able to practice, Rudolph said he feels better now than he did during the first few weeks of the season, when he was trying to play through the pain. However, it was obvious at several points in those first three games that he played that he wasn’t right.

“Currently I feel better than I had the first six weeks of the year. When they go in and fix it, you don’t have that pain, you don’t have the pulling anymore,” he said. “What I had been dealing with since August is gone. Now it’s just a matter of getting the strength back, getting the range of motion back and getting myself ready to play.”

In those first three games, he played in 88 percent of the offensive snaps and caught 10 passes for 96 yards. Since then, he has had to watch the Vikings lose three of the last four games and been helpless to assist.

“The most frustrating thing is not being able to help your team,” he said. “There is nothing I can do right now that will help us win football games besides being in meetings, helping the guys out, being around. But the bottom line is I can’t make plays on Sundays to help us win right now. That’s why I’m here and that’s what I want to do.”

Since it was so recent after his surgery, Rudolph didn’t travel with the Vikings to Green Bay for their Thursday night game on Oct. 2. Since then, however, he has attended every game and will travel with them again this weekend to Tampa.

The Vikings decided to not put Rudolph on the injured reserve/designated-for-return list, which would have kept him out a minimum of eight weeks. If he returns after the Vikings’ bye, he would beat that timeline by one week.

He said that would be a logical timeline to shoot for.

“Hopefully. They didn’t put me on the IR so obviously they expect it to be less than the eight weeks,” Rudolph said. “That logically makes the most sense, but the timeline is all up to them. I’m going to do everything I can this week and next week to get ready to play. Hopefully I can do more that week while I’m here over the bye week. We’ll see where we’re at then.”

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