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This offseason in Minnesota for Kirk Cousins has been shaped by get-to-know-them moments [link=http://www.49erscheapstore.com/joe-staley-jersey-cheap]Joe Staley Jersey[/link] , whether new coaches, plays or teammates with the Vikings.
Kyle Rudolph has made a sharp first impression.
”Boy, he’s a friendly target,” Cousins said one sunny afternoon last month after completing a pass to his strong-handed tight end during non-contact drills when he wore a wireless microphone to allow the team’s video production department to create a brief highlight clip for the website. ”It’s like throwing into a mattress.”
The eighth-year veteran has been happy to oblige his new quarterback, trying to, well, be the best piece of bedtime furniture he can be.
”That’s a new one for me. I’m OK with it. Try to make sure that he’s always getting a good night sleep, always be there for him. That’s kind of my role around here,” Rudolph said on Tuesday after practice.
Cousins recently described a play in a red zone situation when he looked at his two-time Pro Bowl tight end during his drop-back but sent the ball elsewhere. Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski immediately offered some insight to the $84 million guaranteed man .
”In that situation, you might want to give Kyle a chance,” Cousins said, recounting what Stefanski advised. ”Even though he looks covered, you have to throw him the ball. He’s open. He can prove you right.”
Having Rudolph available for drills with the first-team offense has been a welcomed bonus for the Vikings, considering he had surgery on his right ankle in February after playing through pain down the stretch of the season. Rudolph said he’s a couple of weeks ahead of schedule on his rehabilitation.
”We have a new offense [link=http://www.packerscheapstore.com/deshone-kizer-jersey-cheap]DeShone Kizer Jersey[/link] , a new system, a new quarterback. I wasn’t getting any better over there by myself, so it’s good to be back out there,” he said.
Rudolph is not only the longest-tenured offensive player on the roster, but he and wide receiver Adam Thielen are the only ones who joined the team before Mike Zimmer was hired as head coach in 2014. Thielen was on the practice squad in 2013. In fact, Rudolph, Thielen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs are the only members of the offense who’ve been here more than three years.
Rudolph, who will turn 29 on Nov. 9, is coming off the most fruitful two-year stretch in the NFL. He had 81 catches for 532 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017 and, just as importantly, played in all 16 games for a third straight season.
He’s endured more than his share of injuries going back to his college days at Notre Dame, and that helped minimize any anxiety that might have come with a procedure done at this stage of his career. Rudolph counted five surgeries in the past 10 years.
”It’s funny when you sit there: The nurses are getting ready for pre-op, and the doctors are talking to you. I honestly feel like I’m in the dentist office getting my teeth cleaned. It’s so routine, at this point [link=http://www.vikingscheapstore.com/everson-griffen-jersey-cheap]Everson Griffen Jersey[/link] ,” Rudolph said. ”I think at times, your family and friends are more worried about it than you are.”
With the skills Cousins has in completing play-action passes and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s penchant for using his tight ends in all kinds of spots to maximize their matchup advantages with potentially cornerbacks and safeties, Rudolph is in position for another productive season.
”Obviously, he’s had great success with tight ends,” Rudolph said. ”What he’s able to do with all the playmakers and all of the chess pieces that we have on offense, it’s been a lot of fun to see.”
Call him mobile, dynamic, proven or Buffalo’s former quarterback. Don’t dare label Tyrod Taylor anything else.
In his first official appearance since coming to Cleveland, Taylor, who ended the Bills‘ long playoff drought last season, was asked if he could be a one-year stopgap or ”bridge” quarterback while the Browns develop a young QB.
”I don’t necessarily view myself as a bridge quarterback,” he said. ”I’m a quarterback. As far as a bridge, hopefully I’m helping bridge this team to a Super Bowl. And that’s the plan.”
Taylor was introduced along with Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry and cornerback Damarious Randall as the Browns rolled out new faces on their roster following a whirlwind of trades and free-agent signings. It was another significant day in a recent string of them lately for a team trying to crawl out from the rubble of a historic 0-16 season and projecting a positive image.
As for the Browns’ plans with the 28-year-old Taylor, who went 22-21 as a starter in three seasons with Buffalo [link=http://www.raiderscheapstore.com/derek-carr-jersey-cheap]Derek Carr Jersey[/link] , coach Hue Jackson made it clear that even if Cleveland selects a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft that the depth chart is already set.
”He is going to be the starting quarterback,” Jackson said. ”There is no competition.”
With their overhaul in full swing under new general manager John Dorsey, the Browns officially signed seven free agents, including running back Carlos Hyde and Chris Hubbard and Donald Stephenson, a pair of tackles who can help the club’s transition after star left tackle Joe Thomas retired on Wednesday to end a Hall of Fame career.
The Browns also finalized deals with cornerback T.J. Carrie, tight end Darren Fells, defensive back Terrance Mitchell and defensive end Chris Smith.
Dorsey also made another trade – his fifth in less than a week – by sending cornerback Jason McCourty and a 2018 seventh-round pick (No. 219 overall) to the New England Patriots for a 2018 sixth-round pick (No. 205 overall). McCourty started 14 games in one season with Cleveland.
Dorsey called the recent wave of activity ”just the first phase” in rebuilding the Browns, who have gone 4-44 over the past three seasons. Talent has been brought in to Cleveland, and like so many GMs and coaches before him, Dorsey said there is a feeling of renewal.
”You can feel a certain energy in the building,” he said. ”That is what I always like about this period when new guys come in here and guys are really excited to be here and I really appreciate that.
”Until those guys come together in training camp and the OTA sessions because every team’s identity is different year in and year out. Just meeting those guys today, I can understand that they are going to help us and help us achieve our ultimate goals.”
Jackson has been invigorated by the infusion of talent, especially by the additions of Taylor and Landry, a combo that could transform the Browns.
”It gives me back my swag [link=http://www.saintscheapstore.com/wil-lutz-jersey-cheap]Wil Lutz Jersey[/link] ,” joked Jackson, who is 1-31 in two seasons. ”His nickname is Juice Landry. He does have juice. He is a tremendous football player. Obviously, his stats speak for themselves. He is a proven football player in the building who has a lot of intensity and a lot of pride about what he does. You look at Tyrod and the way he carries himself, you can tell he is very proud of is accomplishments.
”I know everybody is talking about the past and what has gone on here. I don’t think that is what fazes him. He has been in tough situations before. We all understand the situation we are in. We have a lot of work to do. Those are two guys that you start to turn and change the narrative with and change the culture with.”
NOTES: One day after retiring, Thomas was at the team’s facility working with T Shon Coleman, who could switch to left tackle after starting 16 games on the right side last season. Jackson said he’s told Thomas to hang around as much as he wants. ”This is still his football team,” Jackson said. ”His locker will stay the same. His place on the plane will be the same if he wants to go. That is how much I think of Joe Thomas. He will be missed.” … Dorsey sidestepped a few questions about upcoming workouts for college QBs. Because he was focused on free agency, he did not attend sessions for Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield or UCLA’s Josh Rosen, two of the top four prospects. ”There are also private workouts, too,” he said.
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