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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Stop calling Thielen a great story, start calling him a great receiver

By Matthew Coller

The odds of Adam Thielen making the NFL were about as long as the Cleveland Browns making the playoffs this year, but his great background story – undrafted out of Mankato – in some ways is a holdup from giving the Vikings’ star receiver the credit he deserves.

Thielen isn’t great for an undrafted guy, he’s just great. And with Stefon Diggs out or slowed by a groin injury for the past few weeks, Thielen has made quite clear that he’s among the best receivers in the NFL. That was on display again in London as he grabbed five passes for 98 yards. Thielen could have had even more if a 40-yard pass hadn’t been called back for a chop block.

With the Vikings’ offense in need of a spark late in the first half, backup quarterback Case Keenum scrambled out of the pocket and found Thielen wide open in the back of the end zone for, surprisingly, his first touchdown of the year. There was a bit of improv on moth ends as Thielen worked to find the open space in the back of the end zone and Keenum knew where he’d be.

“That’s what I love about Case in a scramble drill, if you do get open, he will find you,” Thielen said following the game.

Thielen is open a lot, giving Keenum a chance to find him routinely.

Down by one point in the third quarter, Thielen made a magnificent in-air adjustment to a back-shoulder throw, snatching the ball while turning backwards and holding it all the way to the ground.

Of course, after his reception, the broadcast pointed out that he’s an undrafted guy. Last week, they did a feature on him prior to the Vikings’ matchup with the Ravens.

His story is great. It should keep being told. But there should be just as much focus on the things he does on the field. Head coach Mike Zimmer talked about his route running ability after his strong game against the Browns.

“He sets routes up really good,” Zimmer said. “He leans one way, then he goes the other way or he leans this way and shakes and goes back the other way. He’s probably as good a route runner as we have. Just setting defensive backs up, understanding man coverage, zone coverage and how to work the defenders’ leverage.”

The sign of a true top receiver is when you can still get open despite the opponent knowing you’re going to be a main target. Teammate Kyle Rudolph also pointed to Thielen’s route running as the driver of his success.

“All of his routes look the same, you don’t know where he’s going to go,” Rudolph said following the Vikings’ 33-16 win.

Maybe Thielen surprised some people last season by catching 69 passes for 967 yards (and averaging the second best yards per target in the NFL), but he put a full season on tape last year and got paid.

Opponents aren’t underestimating him anymore, they’re just getting beat by him.

After Sunday’s game, Thielen has 48 catches for 627 yards – and that’s without the QB that helped him rise to a top receiver last season. He could reasonably reach 100 catches this year.

So Thielen deserves to get the same type of attention for his play that other top receivers do, rather than just being known as that undrafted guy who made it. He showed that again against the Browns.

The post Stop calling Thielen a great story, start calling him a great receiver appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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