Thielen in Vikes’ mini-camp
As a youth growing up, Detroit Lakes’ Adam Thielen and his father, Pete, attended dozens of Minnesota Viking games inside the Metrodome, where he was one of thousands of fans cheering.
Come Thursday, Thielen will be attending another Viking function, but he isn’t going as a fan.
After a very productive college career at Minnesota State University Mankato at wide receiver, Thielen’s days as a football player are not over.
The former Laker wideout has been invited to try out for the Vikings during their rookie mini-camp, which will be held Thursday through Sunday at Winter Park.
Now, it’s time to get down to business with his first “interview” with a potential big-time employer.
“I’m not going there as a fan, but as a player who is trying to make the team,” Thielen said. “I am so thankful for this opportunity and I want to prove to the Vikings that I belong on this level.”
It’s an obvious dream come true for Thielen, who started his potential path to the NFL after being invited to the Super-Regional Combine, which was held in Dallas in early April.
Thielen was an integral part of the Mavericks’ successful run over the course of the last four years.
He posted 74 catches for 1,176 yards with eight touchdowns his senior season, and 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 prototypical NFL receiver size at 6-3 and 200 pounds, while possessing top-end speed and reliable hands. He also can contribute as a punt returner, in which he finished as one of the best in MSUM’s history.
His journey as an NFL hopeful started after the Mavericks’ season ended, when he took part in a combine held in Chicago, Ill.
Thielen was one of 200 players invited to the Super Regional Combine in Dallas, where scouts from all 32 teams were in attendance.
“I trained specifically for the combine and the drills held there,” Thielen said.
“My biggest goal there was to show my speed and the long-term goal was to catch the eye from some scouts.”
He did just that, as Thielen ran 40-yard times of 4.45 and 4.49, which is just as fast as many of the receivers who were drafted last weekend.
“I definitely improved my 40 time a lot,” Thielen said.
After the Super Regional, scouts from a couple of NFL teams talked with Thielen directly, while others asked for video.
Teams which were interested in Thielen included the Vikings, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Atlanta and San Francisco.
But it was Minnesota which called Thielen last Saturday during the NFL Draft and invited him to try out for the team during its rookie mini-camp.
“My main goal was to just get a chance and now that I have that, I’m very excited to show them I belong in the NFL,” Thielen said.
Thielen will see at least one recognizable face during the mini-camp in former MSUM teammate and wide receiver LaMark Brown.
The rookie mini-camp includes five practices.
“It’s good to have someone I know and has been through it so I can ask questions and learn from him,” Thielen said.
But Thielen’s opportunities don’t end this weekend with the Vikings, as the Carolina Panthers are up next if the Vikings don’t sign him to a contract.
Earning a contract will ensure Thielen a chance to work out during OTA’s (offseason camps) and eventually training camp, which starts in late July.
“I am now focused on making the Vikings team this weekend and go from there,” Thielen said.
“It really hasn’t sunk in, yet, because it’s been a quick turnaround and not a lot of time to think about it.
“I just want to get back at it and get ready to play some football again.”
This time, though, Thielen will be vying to extend his football career on the highest level, as an NFL player.