Vikings hopeful on Kyle Rudolph's return

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings are still hopeful tight end Kyle Rudolph, who had sports hernia surgery last Tuesday, will be back on the field in fewer than eight weeks, the time Rudolph would have had to miss if the Vikings had put him on injured reserve with a designation to return this season.

A league source said last week that Rudolph would miss six weeks with the injury, and Rudolph said Monday he was able to walk without crutches after his surgery in Philadelphia last week.

"I'm moving around a lot better," Rudolph said. "I'm excited to get the recovery process going. Now, I'm almost a week in. It's just doing everything I can to get better every day."

Rudolph said the injury first surfaced during the first week of training camp, when he noticed pain on the right side of his abdomen.

"I actually got both sides fixed while I was there," Rudolph said. "It was something we thought we could manage. With these injuries, you know they're progressively going to get worse, but we tried everything we could to kind of make it week-by-week, and it got to the point where every Monday we were starting over again. Just get it fixed now so in November, December, January, I'm playing at a high level."

It's the second year in a row Rudolph has missed significant time with an injury, after he broke his foot last November and missed the rest of the season. He didn't have a timetable yet for when he would be able to start running and didn't seem terribly interested in looking too far ahead in the process, but he made it clear he's eager to get back after seeing what Teddy Bridgewater did in his first NFL start Sunday.

"My dad was here this weekend, and he asked me Saturday night how I thought Teddy would do," Rudolph said. "The kid just has it. You know he's going to go out there, things are going to go well, he's going to be calm and he's going to play well. He did exactly what we expected."