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NFC North Rundown: Vikings have intriguing options to replace Kyle Rudolph at tight end

Two younger options, including a rookie fifth-round pick, could find their way into a role that helps offset the loss of the long-time veteran.

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

As the standoff continues between the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers during OTAs this week, the rest of the NFC North is optimistic about the opportunity to get a look at the rookies and veterans that are being built around their own quarterbacks.

Detroit remains hopeful that a trio of somewhat forgotten players will play important roles for the team this year, especially with new coaching staff members and philosophies in play. Meanwhile in Chicago, the Bears are looking to answer a number of questions outside Justin Fields and realize the benefit of continuity in the secondary.

However, today’s rundown begins in Minnesota, where the Vikings have a couple of options to replace Kyle Rudolph (and perhaps a punter!).


Minnesota Vikings

After visiting Vikings, free-agent CB doesn’t sound very happy

A former Packer defender most likely will not be signing with Minnesota after appearing to receive a disrespectfully low offer.

Vikings TE Irv Smith Jr. tabbed as Minnesota’s potential breakout player

Without Kyle Rudolph on the roster, some underlying stats suggest Smith could be one of the Vikings’ breakout offensive individuals.

Is Zach Davidson the Exact Kind Of Unicorn Player the Vikings Need?

On the topic of tight ends, the Vikings’ fifth-rounder has an incredible raw blend of size and speed to develop and even offers help on special teams. Could he eventually play a valuable role on both units for the Vikings?


Detroit Lions

Lions still have high hopes for Tavai and Vaitai; Pleasant expects playmaking

Although the Lions added multiple pieces to their linebacker corps and along the offensive line, the team is still excited about the possibility of both Jahlani Tavai and Halapoulivaati Vaitai establishing vital roles.

Detroit Lions optimistic they have something special in the oft-injured DL Da’Shawn Hand

Perhaps the same can be said for Hand, who has not laid a finger on an opposing quarterback over the past two years, yet remains someone the Lions see as a “special” talent.

To force more turnovers, Detroit Lions want to ‘keep it cloudy’ for opposing QBs in 2021

Disguise will be a big part of the Lions’ defensive philosophy, creating a “cloudy” guessing game for quarterbacks.


Chicago Bears

Can a healthy Khalil Mack be a dominant force again? 20 questions for the Chicago Bears to consider beyond Justin Fields and the QB situation.

Whether or not the Bears’ superstar edge rusher can return to his 2019 self is one of the questions the article poses, along with which receivers can step up behind Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney.

Setting realistic expectations for Teven Jenkins with Chicago Bears

Half of rookies who started at left tackle in the NFL since 2011 were drafted in the first round. The article looks at how those non-first-rounders fared in their first seasons and how that compares with rookie right tackles.

Underpaid Tashaun Gipson Overperforms

Chicago is hoping that continuity and an already-established relationship between its two safeties will lead to a jump in production during Gipson’s second year with the Bears.