MINNEAPOLIS Adam Thielen wasn’t even in high school yet

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MINNEAPOLIS Adam Thielen wasn’t even in high school yet

Postby linchao » Tue Nov 13, 2018 1:22 am

when Larry Fitzgerald entered the NFL in 2004 with Arizona with the acclaim of the third overall pick in the draft.Nine years later Sheldon Richardson Jersey , Thielen needed a rookie tryout camp with Minnesota just to earn a roster spot. It took a season on the practice squad and two more years spent mostly on special teams to set him up to break out as one of the league’s best wide receivers and underdog stories.More Vikings coverageVikings coordinators: Defending Brees, Holton Hill’s role, a Minneapolis Miracle story and moreWATCH: The second annual Minnesota Sports AwardsVikings welcome Everson Griffen back to practiceVikings captain Griffen returns to team activitiesVikings Snap Counts: Rookie Hill shines with Rhodes ailingWith Fitzgerald’s impeccable career with the Cardinals (1-4) winding down,Thielen’s has just begun to take off with the Vikings (2-2-1). Though they play the same position and won’t actually face each other on the field, the matchup Sunday has created an opportunity for these Minnesota-raised pass catchers and summer golfing pals to reflect on their paths to success. And their admiration for each other.“Being born and raised in Minnesota like him, it just makes me so damn proud to see him doing the things he’s doing, but not just on the field. The way he carries himself, the constant professional, the teammate he is,” said Fitzgerald, who will decide this winter whether to come back for a 16th season. “Being around him at different events, the guy is class personified, and it just makes me so, so happy to see somebody like that be rewarded.”Fitzgerald, as a teenage ball boy for the Vikings in the late 1990s, befriended Cris Carter and Randy Moss and was able to glean up-close tips he used to develop into one of the most well-rounded and well-conditioned players at this glamorous position. He has missed only six games in 15 years.Thielen grew up watching Carter, Moss and eventually Fitzgerald on TV.“I just know how hard he works and how successful he’s been,” Thielen said, “and I’ve really tried to emulate what I’ve done from him.”They first met during one of Fitzgerald’s summer visits to his hometown, where he has often led workouts for quarterbacks and receivers in the area right before training camps begin. Like Fitzgerald, Thielen has flourished as a smart and sharp route runner who’s capable of winning a matchup at any spot in the formation. His durability compares, too, with perfect attendance on the field to date in his sixth NFL season.“Early in your career you don’t understand how hard guys work, especially the guys who play a long time and are successful,” Thielen said. “So that was something for me, like, ‘Wow, this guy has been successful for a long time. He’s still out here grinding in the summer when he probably doesn’t need to.””Here are some other key angles to follow on Sunday:CHALLENGE OF CHANDLERThe Vikings are well aware of the danger posed by Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones Dan Bailey Jersey Black Friday , who had six tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup last week against the 49ers to win the NFC defensive player of the week award.“He can take over a game at any time. I just hope he can continue to progress in that direction,” coach Steve Wilks said.Jones, who led the NFL last season with a franchise-record 17 sacks and has a league-leading 32 sacks and 48 tackles for loss since arriving in Arizona in 2016, has 13 tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble and a touchdown return of a blocked field goal in matchups with Minnesota in 2015 and 2016.RUNNING BEHINDDespite the presence of one of the NFL’s most dynamic running backs, David Johnson, the Cardinals rank last in the NFL in rushing with an average of 64.6 yards per game. Johnson has 242 rushing yards, plus 120 receiving yards. Averaging just 3.3 yards per rush, Johnson has had little space in which to use his skills behind a struggling offensive line. He led the NFL in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns in 2016.“We definitely can play better, without a doubt,” Wilks said. “I think if you asked those guys that question, they’d tell you the same thing: too inconsistent.”RUNNING BEHIND, PART TWOThe Vikings are second to last in the league in rushing with an average of 65.8 yards per game, after ranking seventh last season. Running back Dalvin Cook has been held out of two of the last three games because of a hamstring injury, but he’s on track to return against the Cardinals. The blocking has been spotty, but the Vikings have also faced double-digit-point deficits in the second half of three of their five games.“There’s no one in this building who wants to run the ball more than I do,” offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said. “Because it takes a lot of pressure off me.”TURNING THE CORNERAfter sitting out against the Eagles because of a concussion, cornerback Trae Waynes has returned to action this week for the Vikings. Due to injuries to his knee, his ankle and then his head, Waynes has also missed the second half of three games this season.“It’s part of the game. Injuries happen,” Waynes said. “You’ve just got to overcome them.”Rookie Mike Hughes has played the left cornerback spot when Waynes was out https://www.minnesotavikingsshop.com/Randy-Moss-Jersey , but the first-round draft pick will be able to move back inside to the slot when the Vikings are in their nickel defense.“He’s got great quickness and talent, and he’s a good kid,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “Works real hard, trying to get better, asks a lot of questions. So I’ve been pleased with him.”LONG TIMEThe Cardinals have not won in Minnesota in nine visits since 1977, 11 seasons before they moved from St. Louis to the Phoenix area.ARIZONA (1-4) at MINNESOTA (2-2-1)Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, FoxOPENING LINE Vikings by 11 RECORD VS. SPREAD Arizona 3-2, Minnesota 2-2-1SERIES RECORD Vikings lead 16-11LAST MEETING Vikings beat Cardinals 30-24, Nov. 20, 2016LAST WEEK Cardinals beat 49ers 28-12; Vikings beat Eagles 23-21AP PRO32 RANKING Cardinals No. 30, Vikings No. 9CARDINALS OFFENSE OVERALL (32), RUSH (32), PASS (31)CARDINALS DEFENSE OVERALL (24), RUSH (31), PASS (13)VIKINGS OFFENSE OVERALL (14), RUSH (31), PASS (3)VIKINGS DEFENSE OVERALL (21), RUSH (13), PASS (25)STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald plays in hometown for sixth time in 15-year career, with average of 87.4 receiving yards per game but no touchdowns. … Cardinals QB Josh Rosen coming off first career NFL victory. … Cardinals RB David Johnson has combined 53 touches, 283 yards from scrimmage and two TDs in two career games vs. Vikings. … Cardinals DE Chandler Jones has 13 tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble and TD return of blocked FG in two career games vs. Vikings. … Backup QB Sam Bradford is one of six players on Cardinals who’ve spent time with Vikings. … Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is first player in NFL history to complete at least 30 passes in four straight games. … Vikings WR Adam Thielen leads league in receptions (47) and is second in yards (589). He’s also first in third-down catches (14). … Thielen is third player in NFL history with five 100-yard games to start season, joining Charley Hennigan (seven games for Houston Oilers in 1961) and Bob Boyd (five games for Los Angeles Rams in 1954). … Minnesota DE Danielle Hunter has a sack in each of first five games. … Despite slipping significantly in yards and points allowed after leading NFL in both categories last season, Vikings’ defense is third in league on third downs with 29.6 percent conversion rate (16 of 54). … Fantasy tip: Vikings aiming for return of RB Dalvin Cook https://www.minnesotavikingsshop.com , who has missed two of last three games to hamstring injury. Cardinals have allowed league-most eight rushing TDs. A week ago, Adam Thielen was breaking modern NFL records.This week, we’re talking single-season receiving records.More Vikings coverageVikings coordinators: Defending Brees, Holton Hill’s role, a Minneapolis Miracle story and moreWATCH: The second annual Minnesota Sports AwardsVikings welcome Everson Griffen back to practiceVikings captain Griffen returns to team activitiesVikings Snap Counts: Rookie Hill shines with Rhodes ailingThielen had 11 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown in Week 6, and now leads the league with 712 receiving yards on 58 catches.That’s a 16-game pace of 1,899 receiving yards and 154 receptions, enough to threaten the single-season yardage record and shatter the single-season receptions record.Calvin Johnson set the current single-season yardage record in 2012, racking up 1,964 receiving yards, while Marvin Harrison set the receptions record in 2002 with 143.And while those numbers seem out there — particularly for a guy coming off his first 1,000-yard season — some of the underlying metrics suggest that Thielen’s torrid pace could be sustainable.Thielen had another 15 targets Sunday, giving him a league-leading 81 on the season. He has no fewer than 10 targets in any game this season, and an overall catch rate of 71.6 percent.That catch rate is actually down from Thielen’s career high — an even 75 percent, back in 2016 — and more than 20 percentage points off the league lead.Most of those catches are coming without much additional yardage, a potential area of improvement.Thielen is currently averaging 12.3 yards per reception, slightly below his career average of 13.6, after averaging 14 yards per reception from 2016-17.He’s averaging just 4.2 yards after the catch per reception, well outside the top 30, and slightly off his 2017 rate of 5.0 YAC/R and his 2016 rate of 4.4 YAC/R.There is, it would seem, a bit of untapped potential left there.One potential wrinkle: His usage so far accounts for 44.27 percent of the Vikings‘ air yards this season, a measure that eliminates YAC.From a basic standout, Thielen is accounting for nearly half of the Vikings’ passing offense.That seems like an area where Thielen could be primed for regression — he currently ranks second in the league behind Julio Jones at 48.02 percent — but such a number isn’t unprecedented in this pass-happy era.Both Jones and A.J. Green finished 2017 above 45 percent, while DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown and Michael Thomas finished north of 40 percent.
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