Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph was barred from talking with his new coaching staff and practicing with his new teammates when he was drafted by the team in 2011. The owners had locked out the NFLPA amid a lengthy battle over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that didn’t allow rookies to truly join their new teams until a new agreement was ratified in late July.
While the circumstances are different in significant ways, Rudolph drew a comparison to his experience in the lockout as he prepares for a 2020 season that may or may not begin as scheduled.
“I can just magnify it to the point where I have to do everything I can to prepare myself, both physically and mentally, to be ready for things to open back up tomorrow,” Rudolph said, via Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
In 2011, Rudolph would have been permitted to meet up with new teammates at off-site workout sessions and continue to train at a gym with specialty trainers with restrictions on contact with team personnel. Currently, distancing restrictions have put a damper on many such endeavors with an exception this time around being that contact with the coaching staff is permitted and voluntary virtual classroom sessions are available for players this offseason.
What is the same is the necessity to find ways to be self-sufficient and the need to prepare for the unknown moment when the all clear to resume normalcy is given. Since Rudolph has been through a similar scenario previously, he’s being asked for advice from younger players more often than normal on how to manage current circumstances.
“For the first time in the course of [coach Mike Zimmer’s] seven years here, we’re going to have a lot of new faces on our team,” Rudolph said. “It would be great to have these workouts in Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3 of our offseason to come together as a team, because there are going to be so many new faces. But we can’t control the circumstances. For us, it will put that much more of an onus on the veteran guys who have been here before, who know the standard we operate at, and bring those new guys in as quickly as possible.”