By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s draft week and off-season training for the Minnesota Vikings. While the offensive line is the No. 1 priority heading into the new season, there’s some talk that the Vikings need to think about who’s next in line to tight end Kyle Rudolph.

As Rudolph reminds us, however, he’s not even close to thinking about retirement.

It’s been quite a year already for Rudolph. The tight end was up for Man of the Year at the Super Bowl, coached some military veterans at the Final Four and even played for Shaq in an exhibition.

Rudolph attended the Masters and spent time with Kirk Cousins and other receivers just having fun.

He then reported for off-season training. It seems he has been doing this a long time. There’s some chatter that the Vikings may draft a tight end this week, but Rudolph is quick to point out he is still young.

“But I’ve played a lot of football in this league, and when you’ve played a lot of football in this league and your name has been around for a long time, everyone just assumes you’re in your mid-30s and on your way out,” Rudolph said. “That’s not the case with me. I feel like I’m just now starting to get into the prime of my career.”

There’s another adjustment for a veteran: the new offensive coaches change the narrative.

“We seem to keep it exciting around here on the offensive side. I’m constantly learning new systems and working with new coaches, so it’s, this time of year is fun — getting to know a new tight end coach, getting to learn a new system.”

Rudolph says he’s aware the team was not trending in the right direction a year ago.

“We have to earn our way back and everybody starts in the same exact place,” Rudolph said.

But he’s not ready to give in to any thought that he has anything less than a long career ahead, so don’t be quick to make a new pick.

“It’s kind of the nature of when you’re a familiar face in the same place for a long time, most people don’t know that I’m only 29 years old, they just assume I’m older because I’ve been here for a long time,” Rudolph said.

Mike Max

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