4 keys to victory for the Minnesota Vikings vs. Panthers in Week 12

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Kyle Rudolph
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Kyle Rudolph /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports) Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings /

Get Kyle Rudolph more involved

Not having Adam Thielen or Irv Smith Jr. is a big blow for the Minnesota Vikings. But it might see Kyle Rudolph finally become more involved in the offense.

The former Notre Dame standout has been a relative afterthought for the Vikings throughout the 2020 season. Rudolph has just 27 targets to his name so far and although this was to be expected with the growing influence of Smith, things look far more promising for the veteran against the Panthers.

Carolina does tend to struggle with tight ends across the middle. They have given up 332 yards to players at the position over the last four games and it’s about time Kirk Cousins became more dependent on Rudolph to take advantage of this fact.

If this is Rudolph’s final few games in Minnesota, then he will want to go out on a high. The player is a prime candidate for release next spring due to the Vikings’ impending salary-cap predicament, which will result in some big earners moving on without a doubt.

The Panthers deploy a soft zone coverage scheme that Rudolph should be able to take advantage of, providing he can get open quickly. His presence blocking will also be needed on the right-hand side to counteract the threat posed by Brian Burns, so he goes into the game as one of Minnesota’s most important players.