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Bleacher Report – Vikings

More time in the slot for Thielen will make Vikings’ offense more dynamic

By Matthew Coller

Last year, Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur found the key to using Cordarrelle Patterson as a receiver: Line him up in the slot and throw him short passes. With Patterson now in Oakland, the Vikings can now shift both top receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen in the slot.

“This year [Thielen has been] playing a little bit more in the slot,” quarterback Sam Bradford said on Wednesday. “So [we’re] trying to develop that chemistry with some of those routes on the inside, spending a little bit of extra time in OTA’s just getting the feel for how he sees things from the slot.”

The slot role won’t exactly be new for Thielen, just expanded. He was lined up in the slot for 266 of his 788 total snaps last season and caught 24-of-30 passes for 278 yards (9.2 Yards Per Target) and one touchdown. When he was lined up outside, Bradford completed 45-of-62 throws for 689 yards (11.1 YPT).

Upping his slot usage gives the Vikings a chance to have a mismatch on the inside far more often than they would have had with Patterson in the lineup. Thielen proved last season to be an excellent route runner, which is the area where Patterson struggled most.

Both 1A (Stefon Diggs) and 1B (Thielen) receivers can run any type of route in the middle of the field and beat cornerbacks deep when asked.

“The routes are a lot different,” Thielen said. “You have a little more time to make moves when you’re in the slot. When you’re on the outside [it’s] more just speed. It’s one of those things you have to remember where you are and how to win in that situation.”

The ability to move Diggs and Thielen around opens up Michael Floyd/Laquon Treadwell to stay on the outside where they are most experienced. It could also give Kyle Rudolph a chance to move outside against a cornerback.

“He feels really comfortable about trusting where he’s going to be in a lot of the option routes,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “[There are] a lot of different combinations that they have between the slot and the tight end or the slot and the X-receiver. I think Adam has a good feel in there and Sam trusts him.”

Between 2015 and 2016, Thielen jumped from 12 to 69 catches. The Vikings should expect more attention paid to the former Minnesota State Mankato wideout now that his name is on the map. Moving him inside more often should make it more challenging for opponents to scheme to shut him down.

The post More time in the slot for Thielen will make Vikings’ offense more dynamic appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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