Vikings rookie Thielen feels right at home in Mankato

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 5, 2013 - 11:51 AM

Adam Thielen, a rookie from MSU Mankato, feels comfortable in Vikings training camp.

hide

Wide receiver Adam Thielen, a Minnesota State Mankato product from Detroit Lakes, Minn., has speed, size and good hands. But he is still a long shot to make the Vikings roster at a crowded position.

Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

– Perhaps the most surprising thing in Adam Thielen’s case is he doesn’t seem intimidated. Not one bit.

Maybe it’s because he’s on familiar turf, literally. Thielen spent five seasons practicing with his Minnesota State Mankato teammates on these same fields next to Blakeslee Stadium. So he feels at home, even though the stakes have changed. A year ago, his Division II football career was about to reach critical mass. These days, he is an undrafted rookie trying to snare one of the final spots on the Vikings roster as a sneaky-fast wide receiver with good hands.

No pressure, right? Apparently not.

“It feels like just another football camp,” Thielen said after a recent practice. “I feel honored to be a part of this, but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.”

He certainly has taken an end-around approach to getting here. A native of Detroit Lakes, Minn., Thielen was a talented and well-rounded high school athlete, but he wasn’t heavily recruited, even at the Division II level. But then, he was a bit shorter than his current height, 6-2, and a lot lighter than 210 pounds. “I was tiny,” he said. “I was like, 155 pounds.”

He was a productive player in a good program for his first three seasons with the Mavericks. But he wasn’t the kind of guy who seemed certain to get an NFL shot. That started to change last fall.

Playing on a team that eventually reached the Division II national semifinals, a senior on a receiving corps filled with young players, Thielen’s numbers took off for the 13-1 Mavericks.

“He was the guy, and everybody we played knew it,” Mavericks coach Aaron Keen said. “Even so, nobody could really stop him. He found a way.”

A very good season went to another level in the team’s seventh game, against Southwest Minnesota State. With the Mavericks dDown by 14 points late in the fourth quarter, Thielen made five catches for 77 yards in two late drives that tied the score. His TD catch with 39 seconds left forced overtime, and the Mavericks eventually won.

But even after finishing the season with 74 catches for 1,176 yards and eight scores — which put him in the top three in Mavericks history in career catches (198), receiving yards (2,802) and receiving TDs (20) — Thielen wasn’t attracting much NFL interest.

Not invited to the NFL predraft combine, Thielen instead went to a regional combine in Chicago. He did well enough there to be invited to a super regional combine in Dallas, where Thielen surprised everybody — except himself — by running the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds.

“That’s when I heard from teams,” Thielen said. “That’s when, I think, I popped onto the radar.”

Undrafted, Thielen was invited to the Vikings’ rookie minicamp. He performed well enough to get a contract to come to training camp in July. And that brought him back to Mankato.

When he was growing up, Thielen’s favorite player was Cris Carter; he spent hours trying to re-create Carter’s sideline catches in his back yard. In college, Thielen regularly attended Vikings training camp practices. He would watch the receivers do drills, then practice the same things on his own.

Now he is trying to show the Vikings he belongs.

“I need to show ’em that I’m an overall good football player,” Thielen said. “That I can play on special teams. That I’m a hard worker. That I’ll do anything they need me to do. And that I can be consistently good, every day, in practice.”

Making the final roster is a tall order, especially if the Vikings keep only five wide receivers. Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright are locks. That leaves Thielen competing with players such as Stephen Burton and Joe Webb for the final spot or spots.

Still, Thielen has shown some talent early in camp, including going up high for one catch.

“We have seen some flashes from Adam,” Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. “He makes some spectacular catches. We have seen some good things.”

It would appear Thielen has a good chance, at the very least, of landing a spot on the team’s practice squad if he doesn’t make the roster.

“It’s too early to determine right now,” receivers coach George Stewart said. “But sometimes that dark horse comes from nowhere and wins the Kentucky Derby. He has the opportunity be a player in this league.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - J. Vargas 7:07 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 3:00 PM
San Jose
Boston 6:00 PM
Toronto
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Montreal
New Jersey 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Dallas 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Detroit 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Chicago 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Nashville
Tampa Bay 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Florida 8:00 PM
Arizona
Washington 9:00 PM
Calgary
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
Texas 0 FINAL
(11) Kansas State 23
North Texas 21 4th Qtr 7:53
Rice 31
UAB 17 4th Qtr 0:42
Arkansas 45
Rutgers 24 4th Qtr 0:37
(16) Nebraska 42
Maryland 0 4th Qtr 4:49
Wisconsin 52
Minnesota 24 4th Qtr 2:09
Illinois 28
Memphis 48 4th Qtr 1:08
SMU 10
North Carolina 21 4th Qtr
Virginia 27
San Jose St 17 3rd Qtr 12:40
Navy 24
Northern Ill 14 3rd Qtr 4:58
Eastern Mich 10
(25) UCLA 17 2nd Qtr 8:02
Colorado 0
Akron 14 2nd Qtr 6:20
Ball State 6
Massachusetts 20 2nd Qtr 6:26
Toledo 14
Ohio U 7 2nd Qtr 8:23
Western Mich 21
Ga Southern 20 2nd Qtr 10:25
Georgia State 10
Kent State 0 1st Qtr 1:27
Miami-Ohio 7
Oregon State 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(18) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Texas State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
(20) USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(5) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(1) Miss State
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(6) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(7) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(15) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(19) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(14) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Los Angeles 0 1st Half 35:00
Seattle 0
D.C. 3:00 PM
Montreal
Toronto FC 6:30 PM
New England
Portland 7:30 PM
FC Dallas
Colorado 9:00 PM
Vancouver FC
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close