John Carlson: No comparing to Gronkowski-Hernandez


Throughout the offseason, any team with more than one starting caliber tight end was reportedly attempting to replicate the otherworldly production (169 receptions, 2,237 yards, 24 touchdowns) that New England Patriots tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez produced in 2011.

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The Denver Broncos signings of Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen put them in that category, as were the Kansas City Chiefs, who added Kevin Boss to pair with a hopefully healthy Tony Moeaki.

In the NFC, the Minnesota Vikings' signing of John Carlson to a five-year, $25 million contract to pair with 2011 second-round pick and fellow Golden Domer Kyle Rudolph put them among the teams looking to increase their production from that position.

Of course, Carlson and Rudolph's career stats do not measure up to what Gronkowski and Hernandez produced last season. In 62 NFL games, the current Vikings tight end tandem has 163 receptions, 1,768 yards and 16 touchdowns. Perhaps that's why Carlson is pumping the brakes on any comparisons to the Patriots' tight ends.

"To compare us to those two tight ends is not something I'm going to do right now," Carlson said according to Jeremy Fowler of the Pioneer Press. "We've got a lot of work to do; we have a long ways to go. It's been done. It's being done out there. We have to work to improve to get toward that point."

Without a clear-cut No. 1 receiver -- Percy Harvin has the talent to qualify, but has complained about playing time -- and running back Adrian Peterson coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the Vikings could lean on Rudolph and Carlson to make life easier on second-year quarterback Christian Ponder.

Even with a high involvement in the offense, though, it will be hard for Rudolph and Carlson, or any tight end duo, to match what Gronkowski and Hernandez have done or will do in New England.