Wetmore: It may be early, but WR Adam Thielen looks like solid bet
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MANKATO, Minn. - Plenty of roster decisions remain for the Vikings between now and the end of training camp. As it stands now, though, it sure seems like the hometown kid has his spot secured.
Adam Thielen, a product of Minnesota State-Mankato, has impressed in camp, in the first preseason game, and has one of his fellow receivers certain he'll make the team.
"I feel like Adam is a starter," roommate Cordarrelle Patterson said. "He don't feel like he's on the team but I tell him every day, 'man you're on this team. There's nothing you can do that you won't be a part of this team.'
"Adam's a great guy. ... I know he's going to make the team."
Thielen spent last season on the Vikings' practice squad, but he was listed as the backup "first wide receiver" on the team's unofficial depth chart released last week, which would mean he's as high as fifth on the wide receiver pecking order. Vikings analyst for 1500ESPN.com, Andrew Krammer, included Thielen as the fifth wide receiver to make the cut. The Vikings could possibly take as many as six, given that Jerome Simpson is likely to be suspended by the NFL.
Patterson said there are players who felt Thielen should have made the team last year.
"A talent like that you cannot hide," Pattesron said. "I had defensive guys, you know, veterans, saying Adam should have been a part of this team last year. I feel like that, too. ... He feels like he's got a lot to prove to try to make himself. But he's a part of this team, I don't see no way he could not be a part of this team."
He has impressed on special teams, too. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer had good things to say about Thielen's performance -- both on returns and in coverage -- from the team's first preseason game.
It's not uncommon, especially at a skill position like wide receiver, for a player to impress in camp and still not make the team. Or to make the team and then not do much of anything impactful after that point.
Thielen is trying to maintain that perspective, which must be difficult given the attention he's received from fans at practice and from the media. That's to say nothing of one of his most outspoken teammates turned Thielen proponent, Patterson.
"I think he's just playing with you guys," Thielen quipped, when told Patterson said he would make the team. "He's a good dude. I'm not trying to think about that, just trying to come out here and get better, we'll see what happens."
He also downplayed the idea that he should have made last year's Vikings team. He said that he learned a lot about preparation in his year on the practice squad that he has taken with him to this season. He added that he "wouldn't trade anything for last year."
There's yet a ways to go to prove he's more than just a training camp sensation -- the runaway favorite for Mr. Mankato. But Thielen appears to have fans in just about every corner.
"He's a guy that has a lot of toughness, a lot of heart. He wants to make the football team and he's giving his best effort to do it," head coach Mike Zimmer said. "Guys like him, you can win a lot of football games with guys like him."