Receiver Adam Thielen won’t be attending Sunday’s Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium. He will, however, be ready for the start of the Vikings’ push for next year’s Lombardi Trophy, saying he won’t require surgery after suffering back fractures during the NFC divisional playoff win against the Saints.
Thielen, who led the Vikings with 1,276 receiving yards this season, says he’s already ready to return to the weight room next week. Then comes a tropical vacation with Caitlin, his wife and mother to their nearly 16-month-old son, Asher.
“We’re going to Jamaica in a couple weeks,” Thielen said. “It’s adults-only, leaving the little man behind.”
Much deserved. Thielen earned a trip to his first Pro Bowl last weekend, catching an eight-yard touchdown pass from Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Thielen’s participation, he said, was evidence he was feeling well after playing through the lower back fractures in the NFC Championship Game loss to Philadelphia.
Thielen said the injury was a pain tolerance issue and affected more the muscles surrounding the fractures.
“I’m excited to go into an offseason feeling really pretty much healthy,” Thielen said. “That’s always a good thing. I’ve had other offseasons where I’ve had surgeries and it really pushes things back.”
He also acknowledged the Vikings’ unsettled offense with uncertainty at quarterback and an upcoming hire at offensive coordinator.
“I think those two things, hand-in-hand, are a little nerve-racking,” Thielen said. “But obviously I have faith in our management to figure it out and put us in the best situation to win.”
One 2018 candidate for starting quarterback, Case Keenum, keeps in touch with Thielen regularly. They’ll likely golf and vacation together this offseason, Thielen said.
According to Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson, one of the keys to Philadelphia’s 38-7 win in the NFC title game was the method they used to turn the Vikings’ blitz packages against them.
When the Vikings would line up in the double-A gap blitz look that’s become a staple of their defense under Mike Zimmer, Eagles center Jason Kelce would point at the linebacker (either Eric Kendricks or Anthony Barr) that Philadelphia expected to blitz — or so they wanted the Vikings to assume. In reality, Johnson said, the Eagles were pointing at one linebacker and blocking the other one, effectively goading the Vikings into sending the blitzer Philadelphia wanted.
“Kind of reverse psychology on them,” Johnson said. “We knew what they were trying to do with their safeties. We knew if the D-end was going to tighten down to a tight 5 [technique] that they were going to bring [a blitzer]. So little clues like that.”
Roseman still smiling over Bradford deal
A week before the 2016 regular season, Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman shipped Sam Bradford — then his starting quarterback — to Minnesota in exchange for resources that helped vault Philadelphia to the NFC’s No. 1 seed this season.
It was a “franchise-changing decision,” Roseman said.
“You’re staring at the ceiling, because it’s not just you making a move,” Roseman recalled. “You’re taking responsibility for a lot of people on the field and off the field when you make those kind of franchise-changing decisions. They can go one of two ways. You don’t take that lightly, but at the same time someone has to pull the trigger. And you’ve got to follow all your instincts and your gut and your research and then just kind of live with it.”
The Eagles have thrived with Roseman’s decision to jump at the deal Vikings GM Rick Spielman aggressively offered: a first-round draft pick, a fourth-round pick and precious cap space by trading a quarterback, Bradford, whom they viewed was already on borrowed time ahead of Carson Wentz.
Elflein on the mend
“All went well” with Vikings center Pat Elflein’s surgery Monday to repair his fractured left ankle, a league source told the Star Tribune. Elflein, the rookie whose 960 snaps ranked fifth on the Vikings offense, suffered the injury in Minnesota’s 38-7 NFC Championship Game loss in Philadelphia.
Elflein is expected to be ready for Vikings training camp this summer, the source said, if not sooner.
Staff writer Ben Goessling contributed to this report.