Minnesota Vikings: 3 Players that must shine vs. Redskins in Week 8

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 13: Quarterback Sam Bradford
LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 13: Quarterback Sam Bradford /
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Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images /

2. Vikings tight ends

Specifically, the tight end duo of Kyle Rudolph and rookie Irv Smith Jr. will need to step up and shine for Minnesota in the contest, much like they were able to do alongside wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Olabisi Johnson in the Week 7 victory over the Detroit Lions last Sunday at Ford Field.

In the win over Detroit a week ago, Rudolph had a breakout game for really the first time all season, which was a great sign to see from the Pro Bowl tight end after a slow start to the 2019 campaign. Rudolph finished the contest with five catches for 58 yards and one touchdown, ending the game with a total of six targets while hauling in his first touchdown reception of the season in the victory.

Behind Rudolph, Smith Jr. also had a nice showing in the contest for the Vikings, managing to haul in a total of 60 yards through the air on five catches and six targets. He didn’t end up obtaining a touchdown reception in the contest as Rudolph did, but he had an equally strong impact on the game to follow up Rudolph.

If the tight end duo of Rudolph and Smith Jr. can step up as they did in Week 7 against the Lions, the potential absence of Adam Thielen in the starting lineup for Minnesota likely won’t be as big of a deal as it would be if the tight end duo were to be non-existent in the contest on Thursday night at US Bank Stadium.