They were two tight ends at diametrically opposed points of their careers, so it made sense that Kyle Rudolph would prize his first opportunity to play in the Pro Bowl more than Tony Gonzalez would value his 13th.

Rudolph became one of seven Vikings to play in the 2013 Pro Bowl -- and the third selected to the game as a replacement -- after Gonzalez pulled out. The Atlanta Falcons had just lost the NFC Championship Game at home, and Gonzalez, then 36, decided not to traverse five time zones for an exhibition game that has become marginalized.

But the game still had to take place, and there was still going to be a collection of top NFL players in one stadium, so Rudolph went to work. He studied the habits of Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, himself an eight-time Pro Bowler, and gleaned as much as he could about work habits, techniques and the like. Rudolph went on to win game MVP honors, catching five passes for 122 yards and a touchdown.

To Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, Rudolph's experience in Hawaii "flipped the switch.

"I try not to get too far ahead of myself, but the Kyle Rudolph that I see now is so much more confident and more sure of himself than the Kyle I saw a year ago at this time," Frazier said, momentarily breaking with his normal aversion to hyperbole. "It's like night and day."

There was more to go around at the Vikings' organized team activities this week. Linebacker Chad Greenway said he thinks Rudolph "is going to be the breakout star in the NFL." Quarterback Christian Ponder said, "It's just clicking for him." And thanks to that Pro Bowl experience, Rudolph himself is headed into his third season believing he's on the verge of something significant.