Thielen making big progress in Mankato
It is impossible to miss Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen during training camp.
From unsolicited praise for his rapid improvement from general manger Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer to the splashy plays he routinely makes and the roars from the partisan crowd at Minnesota State Mankato, Thielen always seems to be front and center.
It is way too early to anoint him the No. 5 receiver but pretty safe to assume the final position is Thielen’s to lose.
In two days, he has made two nifty receptions of Teddy Bridgewater passes -- diving to snare one Friday and leaping to corral another Sunday before crashing out of bounds.
“I don’t really think about that stuff much,” he said about drawing attention. “I just try to prove that I can play at a high level. There’s probably times I’ve made (the quarterbacks) look worse than the ball was. I probably didn’t need to dive.”
This is Thielen’s second training camp with the Vikings. He spent the 2013 season on the practice squad.
But he impressed the brass enough during the offseason to earn a future’s contract, which essentially guaranteed him a roster spot through organized team activities and minicamp.
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner and Spielman have identified Thielen as the most improved player since the end of 2013, and Zimmer also has been effusive in his praise.
“Adam has been doing a great job; he really has,” Zimmer said. “He has improved a lot in his pass catching; he’s improved a lot in his route running. Adam is a great kid, too. I was teasing him about being here at home, I said, ‘You’re like the superstar around here.’ “
As a senior in 2012, the Detroit Lakes native helped lead the Division II Mavericks to a 13-1 record and a national semifinal berth. He finished as Minnesota State’s second-ranked receiver and third-ranked punt returner.
Thielen has been fielding punts and kicks in training camp, versatility that could help him secure a spot on the 53-man roster.
“I want to get better,” he said. “Anything I can do to help this football team win. Special teams is an opportunity to prove myself and show that I can play.”