Adam Thielen doesn’t think about how far he has come

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One of the most amazing stories spanning the last two football seasons has unfolded in Minnesota, where a little-known player from a little-known school in a little-known town somehow has become not just a member of an NFL roster or a starting-caliber player but a Pro Bowler and a second-team All-Pro.

Vikings receiver Adam Thielen, undrafted and unwanted, has gone from surviving to thriving to dominating during his time with the local NFL team. So does he ever reflect on how far he has come?

“I really don’t,” Thielen said during a recent visit to PFT Live. “I think when I’m done playing and I’m retired I’ll look back at it and be able to reflect on that. Honestly, right now I’m just having fun playing football. The crazy thing is it doesn’t really seem any different. It doesn’t feel like I’m in the NFL. I’m just playing football, what I’ve done since I was a little boy. It doesn’t feel any different than high school practices or college practices or games. I’m just having fun being on the field.”

He said he realized that football didn’t feel any different when he found himself competing at a high level during NFL practices in his first year as a member of Minnesota’s practice squad.

“[W]hen we got to the regular season and I was on practice squad going against the starters every day and I was holding my own,” Thielen said, “I think that was when I was kind of like, ‘Man, I’m better than just a practice squad guy. I can play at this level and I’m consistently beating these guys in practice so why can’t I do it on Sundays?’ That was kind of the moment where I really gained confidence and really felt like, ‘Hey, if I just get the opportunity I can do this.'”

He continues to do it by taking it one day at a time. It’s a cliche, but it works for Thielen.

“Trying to get better every day,” he said. “There’s things that I feel that on a weekly basis I feel like I need to work on and things to make me more comfortable when I’m on the field. For me, like I said, I’m just taking it one day at a time and trying to focus on the little things. . . . I’ve always been just so in the moment. I’ve always just focused on what’s in front of me. Every day the guy across from me, I just want to beat him. I don’t really care if it’s a guy in college a guy in high school then, obviously, when I got to the NFL. I didn’t really care who it was across from me. I wanted to beat him and, like I said, just be the best player I could be.”

He got to where he is in part by emulating Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, a sixth-round pick from Central Michigan who has gone on to become the best receiver in the league, and this year’s only unanimous All-Pro selection at any position.

“You see him week in and week out, getting double covered, teams completely trying to take him away and he’s still leading the entire NFL in yards catches,” Thielen said. “It’s really unbelievable what he’s been able to do and just the way that he works. I was able to go down to Miami a couple summers ago with Teddy [Bridgewater] and he was out there and just the way that he prepares and works in the offseason is really unbelievable. It kind of opened my eyes to see how top players in the NFL, how they work and how they train and he’s one of the best out there.”

Now Thielen is, too. And he’s still striving to get better.

“Every offseason, I kind of put together a plan that I want to get more explosive,” Thielen said. “I want to get more physical on the line of scrimmage and be better with my feet at the line of scrimmage because I think in this league that’s how you win. You win at the line of scrimmage and obviously with your explosiveness and then your speed down the field. I think it’s just been a progression through my years in the NFL. Obviously it’s something that I need to continue to do. This offseason, I’m going to put together a plan of things I need to get better at and to help me just further my career.”

One thing is certain: The list of things he needs to get better at is shrinking.

29 responses to “Adam Thielen doesn’t think about how far he has come

  1. When is the last time any kid from small town Wisconsin shined for the Packets?
    Great story will be even better when he gets a ring in his home stadium

  2. Thielen is not only an awesome player, he is a great person who does a lot for charities. He is everything you want in a player, much like Minnesota native Larry Fitzgerald.

    And to think, we would have had two 1000 yard receivers had Diggs not missed 2.5 games. He is near 900 yards. Good times to be a Viking fan.

    Skol

  3. It’s a shame his story hasn’t been covered more. If Thielen played on the coasts he would be the toast of the NFL, and not a hidden little story.

  4. montanapredator says:
    January 6, 2018 at 9:34 am
    When is the last time any kid from small town Wisconsin shined for the Packets?
    Great story will be even better when he gets a ring in his home stadium

    Probably the closest they’ve had was back in the late 90’s early 00’s. Drafted Bill Schroeder in the 6th round. From Sheboygan, went to school at D3 UW-LaCrosse as more of a track & field guy. Spent about 10 years in the league with about half the time with Green Bay. No where near the player Theilen is, but somewhat similar back stories.

  5. “…It doesn’t feel any different than high school practices or college practices or games. I’m just having fun being on the field.”

    Especially when he plays against my Packers. We don’t care about defense. Only Aaron.

  6. And to think, we would have had two 1000 yard receivers had Diggs not missed 2.5 games.
    __________________________
    When doesn’t Diggs miss 2.5 games? It’s kind of baked in, should be called Steffon Dinged.

  7. The old-timers are obsessed with this guy. He’s humble. He works hard, runs solid routes, and rarely drops a pass. He’s a top-5 WR in the league even though his physical talents belong on the practice squad. Can’t help but respect a guy like that.

  8. Diggs would have even better numbers than Thielen if he didn’t keep getting injured in the groin every year. Like this yr during that stupid duck, duck goose celebration. AT has been dropping some passes lately. A little concerning. He’s a great player. Hopefully he helps win the Vikings the Super Bowl.

  9. Diggs would have even better numbers than Thielen if he didn’t keep getting injured in the groin every year. Like this yr during that stupid duck, duck goose celebration.
    _______________________________
    Priceless. What a disciplined team.

  10. Everyone focuse on the usual route running and sure-handed skills, which are exceptional; however, he also has speed and quickness. This isn’t your usual white WR works his butt off crap – he’s physically gifted.

  11. Good story but they are killing it. I have heard this in every game throughout this season.And last from the local guys. Sports journalists are the most ambitious group. If they have a story already there they will mail it in, and they have repeatedly.

  12. nhpats says:
    January 6, 2018 at 12:30 pm
    Too bad his season will end next weekend….but nice story nonetheless
    *********************************************
    Actually, his season will end as SB MVP when He and Minnesota’s punishing Defense makes Bradys mind up for him to retire! That is after sacking him 7 times, picking him 2x and knocking him out of the game before Halftime when it is 28-0 Vikes.

  13. FlashPatterson says:
    January 6, 2018 at 11:42 am
    The old-timers are obsessed with this guy. He’s humble. He works hard, runs solid routes, and rarely drops a pass. He’s a top-5 WR in the league even though his physical talents belong on the practice squad. Can’t help but respect a guy like that.
    —————————

    Sorry Flash but 4.45 40 and 6.39 in the shuttle for Thielen isn’t quite practice squad worthy.

  14. packertruth says:
    January 6, 2018 at 11:34 am

    When doesn’t Diggs miss 2.5 games? It’s kind of baked in, should be called Steffon Dinged.

    —————————-

    If that’s the worst thing you can come up with about Diggs, I think most Viking fans will be okay with it.

  15. I really like this kid. He’s the one Viking player I wish was on the Packers………but the only one.

  16. stellarperformance says:
    January 7, 2018 at 3:45 pm
    I really like this kid. He’s the one Viking player I wish was on the Packers………but the only one.

    1 2 Rate This
    ————————-
    This guy loves the Vikings, there is no doubt about it.

  17. stellarperformance says:

    January 7, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    I really like this kid. He’s the one Viking player I wish was on the Packers………but the only one.

    ————————

    lol. You wouldn’t wants anyone from our defense? I can understand not wanting Barr, but you wouldn’t want Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes? If the Pack had just those two guys their defense would do a 180 degrees and Rodgers would win 2 Superbowls. The Packers I think are fine at Linebacker and Defense Line, but secondary is what needs improvement. I would keep Ha Ha Clinton Dix thou. Class player.

    That said….I would only want Aaron Rodgers, and the kicker of Green Bay.

  18. Liberalsruineverything says:
    January 6, 2018 at 10:02 am
    I grew up in a town 25 miles from his so it’s surreal how good he has become. No question he has become the most popular Viking.
    ///////////////
    Which town, out of curiosity?

  19. Thielen and Keenum along with many others just keep proving that no one in the NFL really has any clue how to scout.

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