Thielen officially signs with Minnesota Vikings
After being invited to try out for the Minnesota Vikings last week during the team’s rookie mini-camp at Winter Park in Eden Prairie, Detroit Lakes’ native Adam Thielen has a new job.
Thielen took a physical for the Minnesota Vikings Monday and signed a contract with the team, in which he will now report to Winter Park next Monday for team workouts and a place on the wide receiving corp. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
The former Laker impressed the Viking’s coaching staff enough to offer him a contract and the chance to make the 53-player roster during training camp, which starts July 26, at Thielen’s college alma mater Minnesota State University Mankato.
Thielen took the most of his opportunity after being invited to try out for the Vikings Thursday through Sunday, with the hurdle of being star struck non-existent.
“They gave me every opportunity that they gave everyone else and I went in with the mindset that I belonged there,” Thielen said of the rookie mini-camp. “It just reminded me how much I love the game of football.”
Thielen ran plenty of routes during the five-day mini-camp, which had all of the Vikings’ 2013 draft picks, along with the first and second-year invitees.
The Viking draft class included No. 29 overall pick Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, whom Minnesota traded up with the New England Patriots to select.
“C.P. is a real good guy and he helped me out a lot,” Thielen said of Patterson. “It was fun meeting with him and striking up a friendship with him.”
But make no mistake about it, Thielen didn’t enter the mini-camp intimidated or just being happy making it that far.
Vikings’ receivers coach George Stewart gave positive reactions to Thielen throughout the mini-camp, giving the Maverick wideout plenty of encouragement and advice.
“Coach Stewart is an amazing coach and he’s been around the NFL a long time,” Thielen said. “In the four days I was there, I learned a lot from him.”
Which led to Thielen’s meeting with Vikings’ head coach Leslie Frasier, who broke the news to him Sunday the team was going to offer him a contract after he takes a physical Monday.
“You’d think one would be star-struck, but I felt comfortable talking with Coach Frasier and I already felt a part of the team,” Thielen said.
Thielen’s college numbers speak for themselves, as well.
He posted 74 catches for 1,176 yards with eight touchdowns his senior season at Mankato. He finished as the Mavericks’ second all-time leading receiver, with 198 receptions, and third in yardage with 2,802 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Thielen has legit NFL receiver size at 6-3 and 200 pounds, while possessing top-end speed (4.45-4.49) and reliable hands.
With the full team reporting to Winter Park for workouts and OTA’s next Monday, Thielen will start getting to know his new teammates.
Maybe you’ve heard of them?
Star-studded names such as Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Greg Jennings and the players who will be delivering the ball to him in quarterbacks Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Joe Webb, just to name a few.
Thielen also worked at punt and kick returning during the rookie mini-camp and it’s a path the former DL Laker knows he may have to take, if he is to make the team.
It’s also something he excelled at in Mankato, after becoming one of the team’s all-time punt returners.
“Playing special teams is another way to make the team, so I am going to focus on getting better as an overall football player,” Thielen said. “I am not going to worry about the issues I can’t handle, but just to become the best football player I can be for the Vikings.”
Thielen will now have a spot on the training camp roster, which is held on his former home field on the Mankato campus.
“Yeah, that’s really cool, playing on the same field I played on in college,” Thielen added. “It will take some nerves away.”
Thielen is expecting the basic minimum NFL contract, but he is focusing on other matters first. It’s getting better as a player which is first and foremost on his mind.
But if Thielen earns a spot on the final 53-man roster – which will be decided after training camp - the minimum rookie salary in 2012 was $390,000.
Another option is the practice squad, which consists of eight players, who can practice with the team (like a scout team), but not play in actual games.
The minimum salary for a practice squad player was $5,700 per week in 2012.
“The biggest thing I am looking forward to is to see how much better I can get as a player, though,” he said. “I’m looking forward to football becoming my job.”
It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and after Monday, work will begin for the first-ever NFL player who hails from Detroit Lakes.