The Vikings have made no secret of their desire to use more two-TE packages this season, not unlike the way the Patriots did last season. There might not be a Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez on the Vikings’ roster, but the team felt very good about heading into training camp with a twosome of Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson at the position.
The problem has been that both players have been banged up this preseason. The team has not been afforded the opportunity to develop the system, and Carlson especially has missed out on the chance to work more with QB Christian Ponder.
Carlson came on board as a free agent, with the Vikings outbidding the Chiefs to land him. He remains slated to play a big role this season, but an MCL sprain in the first few days of camp has left him off the practice field entirely.
It appears Carlson will be good to go for the start of the season, but he and Rudolph barely have been on the field together. In the team's second preseason game, Rudolph suffered a blow to the ear that the team feared might have been a concussion. It was not. However, the team is closely watching him in practice.
If there’s a positive, it’s that the other tight ends on the roster have had chances to show something. The team could keep four on the initial 53-man roster, and one of them appears to be fourth-rounder Rhett Ellison, a college tight end who has adapted to his new role quite well. Ellison could end up filling the versatile, unsung role of Jim Kleinsasser, who retired this past offseason after being with the team since 1999.