Around the Horns: John Carlson rebounds


Welcome to Around the Horns, our daily look at what's happening on the Vikings beat:

The Vikings signed tight end John Carlson in March 2012 to enhance their passing game as part of a two-tight end package with Kyle Rudolph, but a knee injury in training camp put Carlson's first season with his home-state team on a bad path before it even got started. Carlson wound up catching just eight passes last year as a forgotten man in the Vikings' offense, and had to take a pay cut this spring just to stay with the team.

With Rudolph out because of a fractured foot, though, Carlson has blossomed in the Vikings' offense -- to the point where he's on track for his best season since 2009 with the Seahawks. And as he told Tim Yotter of Viking Update, he's grateful to have another chance.

"It’s been fun to feel like I’m contributing on the offensive side of the ball, or really in any way. Last year didn’t go, obviously, the way I wanted it go,” Carlson said. “On a football team, or I guess on any team, everyone wants to feel like they’re contributing, doing their part and helping the team win. Football is the ultimate team sport.”

Rudolph is due to come back in a week or two, and Carlson's role in the Vikings' offense will undoubtedly be affected by that. But after missing all of 2011 with a shoulder injury and being limited last year, Carlson has shown he's still got something left at age 29. It wouldn't cost the Vikings much to let him go after this season, but in Rudolph's absence, Carlson has made the case he's worth keeping around.

Here are today's other Vikings stories of note: