Rudolph will likely face San Diego Chargers linebacker Manti Te'o, his teammate for two seasons at Notre Dame. Te'o has played every defensive snap for the Chargers this year and has been targeted in pass coverage seven times so far this season, according to Pro Football Focus. He has yet to be targeted while covering a tight end, but his improvement against the run has allowed him to stay on the field for three downs, and it could be on running plays, where he sees Rudolph on Sunday.
"He's an athletic middle linebacker," Rudolph said. "Nowadays, that's pretty rare. He came into Notre Dame as a running back-linebacker that could run, and was always good in the pass game. He's just gotten better and better in the run game. He's hard to get on [as a blocker] -- we say 'slippery.' So he's slippery in the run game and athletic enough to stay on the field and cover."
Rudolph said he was friends with Te'o when the two played together for the Fighting Irish, but hasn't kept in contact with him frequently since the Vikings drafted Rudolph in 2011. "I saw him back there for a spring game a couple times, but I wouldn't say we keep in touch as much as we probably should," Rudolph said.
But from watching film of Te'o, the 2012 Heisman Trophy runner-up, Rudolph sees a marked difference from the player he competed against in practice.
"You watch him last week against the Bengals [last week], he had like 10 tackles. You've got to play at a high level in the run game, because if you're just a cover linebacker, you can't play every down. It's very similar to us as tight ends: You've got to be able to run-block as well as run routes. We all have what we need to work on; he's done well to improve in the run game."