By Joseph Gunther

Kyle Rudolph has not played since a Week 3 loss to the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome. Six weeks after having sports hernia surgery, the starting tight end “practiced a little bit.” Rudolph and team remain hopeful that he will be able to play Sunday against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

“He ran routes and did a little bit more than individual stuff,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “We’ll see as the week goes on.”

Rudolph saw this week’s game as his “goal” to return to the lineup. He recorded 10 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown in three games this season.

He signed a five-year contract extension during training camp. The fourth-year tight end has missed 13 games over the last two seasons. He missed the second half of last season with a broken foot suffered against the Dallas Cowboys.

Chase Ford emerged in recent weeks as a viable receiving tight end in Norv Turner’s two-tight end offense. Rhett Ellison will continue to serve as the No. 1 blocking tight end.

Thomas succumbs to ALS

Former Vikings safety Orlando Thomas died Sunday night after a seven-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). He was 42-years-old. He played seven seasons for the Vikings and led the league in interceptions with nine as a rookie in 1995. His agent, Mark Bartelstein confirmed the news.

“Nobody’s every fought a battle like Orlando fought, with so much dignity — I never saw anything like it,” Bartelstein said. “It’s just incredible. He never had a sense of self pity, never felt sorry for himself, he was always worried about everyone else. He was just the most incredible person I’ve ever been around.”

Thomas played in 98 games and started 87 with 22 interceptions before retiring after the 2001 season. He revealed in June of 2007 that he had ALS. The Vikings issued a statement about the former player.

“Orlando was an outstanding player for the Vikings for seven years, but more importantly, he represented the franchise and the state of Minnesota with the utmost dignity and class. While his outgoing personality made him a favorite among his teammates, Orlando’s involvement in the community made him a favorite outside of Winter Park.

“Since 2007, Orlando fought this disease with tenacity and optimism. Throughout his difficult battle, he refused to allow ALS to define him, instead putting others’ needs in front of his and focusing on making those around him smile. Orlando will always remain a member of the Minnesota Vikings family.”

NFLPA files grievance against NFL

The NFL Players Association has filed an expedited grievance with the NFL to reinstate Adrian Peterson from the commissioner’s exempt list. The NFLPA brought up “explicit language in a signed agreement” when Peterson agreed to go on the list while his child abuse charge was unresolved.

Peterson reached a plea deal last week to a misdemeanor charge. The NFLPA sent a letter to the NFL on Friday demanding that Peterson be immediately reinstated. The league has said that they will review the plea agreement before making a decision on Peterson’s immediate future.

“As of now, they have failed to respond or comply,” the NFLPA said. “It is our obligation to protect all players’ rights, and we will pursue any and all breaches of any contract between a player and his team or the NFL.”

Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, an expedited grievance must be heard within seven days and a decision be rendered within five days of the hearing. ESPN reported that Peterson will have his hearing on Monday.

Peterson has missed the last seven games after recording 75 rushing yards in the season opening win over the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome.

For more Vikings news and updates, visit Vikings Central.

Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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