Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Five 'Under-the-Radar' Players to Watch: Adam Thielen- #1

Daniel House tells you why wide receiver Adam Thielen is the top 'under-the-radar' Vikings player heading into training camp this Friday. 

Updated: July 22nd, 2014 11:58am

By: Daniel House

Wide receiver Adam Thielen has earned the crown as the top 'under-the-radar' Vikings player to keep an eye on as Vikings training camp begins on Friday.

Thielen has slowly become a fan favorite and has developed very quickly in the eyes of the Vikings coaching staff. A Minnesota native and former Minnesota State, Mankato football player, Thielen spent the 2013 season on the Vikings practice squad. Minnesota State was Thielen’s only scholarship option out of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, where he grew up watching the Vikings every Sunday.

After a standout career with the Mavericks and a speedy workout at the NFL regional combine in Chicago, Thielen was one of a dozen athletes provided a chance to compete for a spot on the Vikings roster. He entered training camp and walked his familiar stomping grounds, where he made a name for himself at the college level. Thielen was a training camp roommate with rookie standout Cordarrelle Patterson last year. Heading into training camp, many believed he would be another undrafted rookie from a Division II school, that didn't pan out.

Those people were wrong.

Adam Thielen astonished the Vikings coaching staff with his ability to run crafty routes and make spectacular catches in traffic. Quickly, Thielen began to shoot up the wide receiver depth chart and started to see more practice reps. He continued to flourish and wide receivers coach George Stewart told me on several occasions that he was one of the biggest surprises during Vikings training camp. The preseason rolled around and Thielen caught just two passes for 27 yards. Roster cuts rolled around and Thielen was released, but later signed to the practice squad, just days later.

He went on to spend the entire 2013 season on the practice squad and gained some tools from wide receivers coach George Stewart during that time frame. He proved he is a quick study and could learn new skills quickly, which could appeal to the Vikings coaching staff. He made a solid impression in the mini-camp practices and Vikings GM Rick Spielman even mentioned him as one of the most impressive players at mini-camp, during an interview with KFAN radio earlier this off-season.

Thielen will be battling for the fifth or sixth wide receiver spot when training camp begins on Friday. As we look at the situation right now, it appears Thielen, Rodney Smith, and Josh Cooper are the most likely candidates to fill this role. Thielen has position flexibility and the size to line up in the slot or on the outside, which makes him an attractive candidate for the final spot.

Thielen will need to show he is worthy of a roster spot, but it appears he is on the right path for success. He will just need to display is talents one more time on the grounds of MSU-Mankato, a task he has already done twice in his football career.

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