Ford sees role after Rudolph’s return

Chase Ford has filled in nicely for Kyle Rudolph, but he can still continue to contribute after Rudolph’s return.

In the first half of the season, one of the biggest surprises for the Minnesota Vikings would have to be tight end Chase Ford. Ford was on Minnesota’s practice squad for the first three weeks of the season, but once starting tight end Kyle Rudolph had to miss time after having surgery for a sports hernia, it was Ford who had to step up and fill that role.

Since Rudolph had to miss time, Ford has started in four games and played in all six. In those games he has recorded 19 receptions for 212 yards (fourth on the team) and one touchdown – which was the first touchdown of his career.

With Rudolph likely to return to the lineup, Ford’s playing time will likely take a hit. He is not sure about how frequently he will be on the field, but he is still expecting to get his snaps in.

“Nah, I haven’t heard anything,” said Ford when asked about what his role moving forward will be. “That’s up to the offensive staff, you know, whatever they want me to do I’m ready to do it.

“I don’t feel like I’m just not going to play at all. I’m still going to have plays where they need me to go in there and play and stuff like that, but like I said, I’m just going into everything full speed.”

One possibility that the Vikings could employ would be to run more two-tight end sets that involve both Rudolph and Ford, something like what the New England Patriots used to do with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

When asked, Ford had no idea if that was a possibility and said that it was not something he was able to answer. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner, however, was able to shed a bit of light on it.

“Two-tight end sets? We’ve been in a lot of that,” said Turner. “I don’t see us going in and playing a lot of three tight ends. The thing that’s happening now, when we spread the field, we tend to have more success than when we play in tight groupings.”

Even though the Vikings have had more success spreading the defenses out with three-receiver formations – and the single tight end on the field would likely be Rudolph – Turner notes that Ford, and Rhett Ellison, likely will continue to get snaps. The reason is that they have had good chemistry with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater so far, and it wouldn’t make much sense to break that up just because Rudolph is healthy again.

“We’ve got a little chemistry going, a little rhythm with Chase (Ford) and Rhett (Ellison), so if guys make plays you want to continue to give them opportunities and then you want to give Kyle an opportunity to make plays.”

Even though things are likely to be changing soon for Ford and the amount of playing time he will receive – Rudolph is probable to play on Sunday for the first time in nearly two months – Ford is still thankful for what has happened this year and is looking forward to this Sunday’s game at Solider Field in Chicago.

“Its my first time playing in Chicago,” said Ford. “It’s a great rivalry for many years now and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

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