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Kyle Rudolph’s hamstring sparks medical speculation

Delano Howell, Kyle Rudolph

Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph, top, is tackled by Stanford safety Delano Howell during first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)


When Vikings coach Leslie Frazier joined PFT Live on the Monday after the 2011 draft, he gushed about the addition of Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph in round two. Frazier said that Rudolph, who slid to the second round due in part to a serious hamstring injury suffered last year, has the potential to be a Pro Bowler early in his career.

But Rudolph’s performance at the NFL level hinges on the healing of the hamstring. While Rudolph and the Vikings are confident that he’ll be back to 100 percent, but Tom Pelissero of has spoken with a medical expert who has provided a more guarded assessment.

Dr. J.R. Rudzki, who has worked with the St. Louis Rams and other professional sports teams, told Pelissero that patients suffering hamstring tendon avulsions “have roughly a 70 to 85 percent of being able to return to their desired level of sports activity.”

Added Rudzki regarding Rudolph, “For him, obviously, he has functional demands and an activity level as an elite professional athlete that are significant and leave little room for residual weakness.”

But as Pelissero points out, Rudzki hasn’t examined or treated Rudolph. Vikings doctors and others have, with Rudolph being checked not once but twice by doctors in Indianapolis at the Scouting Combine and the subsequent medical re-check. And Rudolph was able to perform sufficiently well at his Pro Day workout to help the Vikings feel comfortable about using a second-round pick on a position that, for now, is more of a luxury than it is a need.

Though this reality won’t stop Rudzki or other doctors from welcoming the chance to get their names in the media when given a chance to opine on the condition of athletes they haven’t examined, it’s an important fact to keep in mind when considering such comments.