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Published August 07, 2012, 09:34 PM

Tight end trend hits Minnesota

Mankato, MN (WDAY TV) -- The Vikings open the preseason Friday night in San Francisco. They were hoping to debut their new tight end formation that night, but an injury to John Carlson will force the fans to wait.

By: Eric Manlove, WDAY Sports, WDAY

Mankato, MN (WDAY TV) -- The Vikings open the preseason Friday night in San Francisco. They were hoping to debut their new tight end formation that night, but an injury to John Carlson will force the fans to wait.

The Minnesota Vikings are buying into the two tight end trend across the NFL, signing Minnesota native John Carlson to line up opposite of Kyle Rudolph. They’re hoping both can have breakthrough seasons to help an offense that finished 28th through the air a year ago.

Leslie Frazier - Vikings Head Coach: "That position has evolved to the point where you have to pay attention to the tight ends, and if you get a couple quality guys like we think we have, it creates mismatches for the defenses."

John Carlson - Vikings Tight End: "The tight end group, I think their role in the passing game has grown significantly in the last 4-5 years. Hopefully we can accomplish that this year. We don't have an identity completely yet on offense."

Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave has high hopes for the duo, still working out ways to get them both on the field.

Bill Musgrave – Vikings Offensive Coordinator: "One time we might have one guy in the backfield, both on the line of scrimmage, even both of them split out outside of the corresponding receiver. They have that much versatility."

Kyle Rudolph - Vikings Tight End: "John and I would like to be on the field a lot together. We feel that has been the movement across the NFL with offenses moving towards multiple tight end sets and we feel that can be a big part of our offense as well."

Different attributes tend to make great tandems, needing to look no further than New England’s Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, who combined for 24 touchdowns last year. If the Vikings can get anywhere close to that, they will be thrilled.

John Carlson: "To compare us to those two tight ends is not something I'm going to do right now. We've got a lot of work to do, we've got a long ways to go, so it's been done, it's being done out there. We have to continue to work to improve."

Vikings tight ends combined for 63 catches in 2011, more than 100 off the league lead. Early indications show that won't be a problem in 2012.

Carlson is expected back in about 2 weeks.

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