Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

December 07, 2018 at 6:34 pm.

–Tight end Kyle Rudolph was named the Vikings’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. It’s the second straight year Rudolph has been the team’s nominee for the award given for community service. Rudolph opened Kyle Rudolph’s End Zone at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s hospital last December. The area includes an indoor basketball hoop, TV and video games and other areas of play for kids with autism spectrum disorder. Rudolph has also started 61 straight games, the longest active streak for a tight end in the NFL and first all-time in team history.

–A year after setting a NFL record in third-down defense, Minnesota is back at it. The Vikings are allowing a first down on just 29.93 percent of third downs this season. The New York Jets are second with a 32.34 percent third-down conversation rate.

–Minnesota has started a trend of leaving earlier for West Coast games in recent seasons and will follow suit this week. The Vikings will leave Saturday for the Monday game, instead of the day before when they and other teams typically travel.

–Defensive end Danielle Hunter is tied for third in the NFC with 11.5 sacks this season, but he’s gone without a sack for the past three games. He’s only had one other game this season without a sack. “He’s always close at getting sacks,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “Last week they ran the ball three times on third down, threw two screens, they were being very conscious about not allowing us to do that much.”

–Quarterback Kirk Cousins talked about his relationship with Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. The two met up in memorable college games with Cousins at Michigan State and Wilson at Wisconsin in the Big Ten. They were teammates at the Senior Bowl and trained together leading up to the draft.

“We spent roughly a couple months from the end of the college season to the Combine,” Cousins said. “We spent a lot of time together. That’s when you could see, not only his ability which you obviously saw from a distance when we were playing against each other in college, but just his work habits, his intelligence, his leadership and command. You could see all the traits that have enabled him to go on to great success in the NFL. I think all the guys who trained with him there in Florida when we were together are not surprised by what he’s been able to do. Bobby Wagner was there, as well, training with us. There were a lot of good players that you end up coming across as you play in this league.”

–Cousins leads the NFL with 350 completions and is sixth with 3,490 passing yards. Minnesota is seventh in the league in passing but 30th in the league in rushing.

“I want to run the ball effectively,” Cousins said. “I want to run the ball successfully. Anytime we’re doing that, I’m all for it. I certainly don’t want to have a lot of wasted plays running the ball for no gain, for a loss of yards. We don’t want the penalties, the holding calls that end up crippling drives. I’m all in favor of productive runs, and however we can find those and get those, even if it means I run a little bit – even the drop-back game maybe I can take off and run a little bit – whatever we can do to run the football is a good thing. But, at the same time, it’s all about winning. We’ve found ways to win this year in other ways, as well. Just looking for ways to move the football.”

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 – Runs of at least four yards will be interesting to watch on Sunday. Minnesota has allowed just 150 runs of four yards or more this season, which is the third-lowest total in the NFL. Meanwhile, Seattle’s offense has 188 such runs this season, the most in the league.