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How Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen has discovered his area of interest in Justin Jefferson’s world – Minnesota Vikings Weblog


EAGAN, Minn. — The quarterback was in hassle. Throughout a purple zone drill early in coaching camp, Kirk Cousins stepped up within the pocket because the Minnesota Vikings‘ cross rush bore down. With a cut up second remaining earlier than he was sacked, Cousins knew the place to look. Receiver Adam Thielen was sprinting throughout the again of the tip zone, a step forward of cornerback Harrison Hand.

As he has so typically in latest seasons, Cousins flipped the ball within the path of Thielen, who caught it in stride for a landing. The improvised connection was a reminder of Thielen’s wild profession flip because the arrival of teammate Justin Jefferson in 2020.

Thielen’s general targets per sport have understandably dropped over that span, however his scoring totals have soared. Solely two NFL receivers have caught extra landing passes than Thielen (24) because the begin of the 2020 season: Davante Adams (29) for the Green Bay Packers and Mike Evans (27) for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The surge has almost matched Thielen’s scoring totals throughout his first six seasons mixed (25).

Consequently, he has amassed 312.2 fantasy factors in non-PPR scoring — No. 9 general amongst receivers — even whereas rating No. 29 in whole targets (199). As Jefferson emerged because the NFL’s prime younger receiver, Thielen discovered a distinct segment that matches neatly with the abilities he has honed over time.

“He is at all times been robust with the soccer,” Cousins stated. “He has nice pure palms, nice physique management, and he performs large. He performs large and robust, and he runs large and robust. That reveals up within the purple zone and in tight home windows and in tight protection.”

Over that very same span, in reality, Thielen ranked No. 3 within the NFL for catch charge over expectation, an NFL Subsequent Gen Stats evaluation of a participant’s skill to make lower-probability catches. However as unusual as it’d sound, it is by no means secure to imagine {that a} veteran participant’s success will survive a training transition.

Thielen, for one, will flip 32 later this month. After he appeared in each sport for every of his first 5 NFL seasons, he has missed 11 due to accidents over the previous three. His contract, in the meantime, has no totally assured cash remaining after this season.

And as Jefferson reaches the brink of superstardom, No. 3 receiver K.J. Osborn is having a breakout coaching camp in his personal proper. Tight finish Irv Smith Jr.’s latest thumb surgical procedure hasn’t diminished pleasure about his pending contribution, giving Cousins one other mouth to feed. However new coach Kevin O’Connell has embraced the methods Thielen can excel in his scheme — within the purple zone, particularly — and Thielen hasn’t been shy about about declaring performs that labored properly or had been run particularly conditions prior to now. If coaching camp practices are any indication, the Vikings are doing all the pieces they will to protect the Cousins-Thielen scoring connection.

“The good half about it’s the suggestions,” O’Connell stated. “He is capable of speak to me about, ‘I do know we’re teaching this like this, however have you considered this route stem or this prime of the route?’ and that is the place typically you say to your self, ‘Thank goodness we bought gamers like that. As a result of what you stated is best than what I stated.’ Let’s do it that manner. Different occasions, we will keep on with my manner. Both manner, we have now that dialog.”

On the top of his profession, when he was producing consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2017 and ’18, Thielen noticed 9.16 targets per sport. For the reason that begin of the 2020 season, that quantity has been about 22% decrease (7.13).

His purple zone targets, nevertheless, have really elevated barely, from 1.06 in 2017-18 to 1.18 in 2020-21 — a spotlight that O’Connell, Cousins and Thielen are all working to protect this summer time.

Thielen was initially shocked after encountering O’Connell’s process-over-outcome method to putting in and revising his scheme, however the adjustment has led to some fast progress.

“Generally it nearly feels awkward,” Thielen stated. “You are like, ‘Is he not going to tear us? What is going on on right here?’ And it has nothing to do with the previous teaching workers we had right here. That is the way it’s been my entire life, whether or not highschool, school, first yr within the NFL after I had a special coach. It is totally different, nevertheless it’s thrilling as a result of it is like now we will go in there and we will educate. We are able to study. Even when we do some issues unsuitable, and have some psychological errors, it is like, ‘Hey, that wasn’t OK, however let’s concentrate on the method.'”

Regardless, Thielen is aware of he’s on the again finish of his profession. In 2021, for instance, you would depend the variety of receivers on one hand who had been 32 or older and caught greater than 40 passes: Cole Beasley, A.J. Green, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. None of them caught greater than 4 touchdowns.

“I haven’t got 10 years left in my profession, so yeah, I believe there is a sense of urgency,” Thielen stated. “We’ve a very gifted workforce. We’ve an incredible tradition. We’ve nice coaches. However on the finish of the day, you do not need to lose web site of the day-to-day mindset, which this teaching workers, this tradition, has created.”

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