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Thielen wants bigger role on Vikings' offense

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.--Detroit Lakes native Adam Thielen might be far more this season than just an ace on special teams. The Vikings' wide receiver, who started at Minnesota State Mankato, saw spot duty from scrimmage in his first two seasons on t...

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Photo by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.-Detroit Lakes native Adam Thielen might be far more this season than just an ace on special teams.

The Vikings' wide receiver, who started at Minnesota State Mankato, saw spot duty from scrimmage in his first two seasons on the 53-man roster. He believes he's ready this year for a bigger role.

"Yeah, that's what I'm here for,'' Thielen said Monday. "That's why I play this game. I want to be the best player I can possibly be to help this football team win games.''

Thielen was on the practice squad in 2013 and before catching eight passes in 2014 and 12 last season. In the Vikings' 17-16 win at Cincinnati in last Friday's preseason opener, Thielen got work with the first-team offense and hauled in a beautiful 22-yard catch across the middle from Teddy Bridgewater.

There will be plenty of competition to get on the field for Thielen, who is listed even with Cordarrelle Patterson as the second-team flanker behind Stefon Diggs. That is ahead of Jarius Wright, who has been Minnesota's third receiver in recent years.

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Wright did not get off to a great start in training camp, and he suffered an injury Aug. 8 in practice that has continued to sideline him. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Monday he expects Wright will return for some preseason action.

Patterson is a wild card. He missed more than a week of training camp with a shoulder injury and sat out against the Bengals, but Zimmer is hopeful he will play Thursday at Seattle.

"I wish he would have been healthy last week,'' Zimmer said. "We would have played him a little bit.''

Then there's rookie Laquon Treadwell, the second-team split end behind Charles Johnson who caught four passes for 41 yards against the Bengals. Put it all together, and will there be an opportunity for Thielen to play a bigger role in the offense?

"I honestly don't know,'' Zimmer said. "I think he's done a good job when he's been in there. He's always been kind of a guy who's efficient when he goes in and plays. So we'll just have to see how it goes."

Thielen has been regarded as an overachiever since making the Vikings' practice squad after arriving as an undrafted free agent from Mankato at a rookie minicamp. Now, he believes he has shown enough to get increased time on offense.

"I think my offseasons the last few years, I'm just getting better every day, and I'm sure I'm prepared for this opportunity,'' he said. "I'm prepared, but I've still just got to take it one day at a time.''

That means continuing to make an impact whatever way he can. Thielen was named Minnesota's top special teams player for 2015, and Zimmer expects his strong play will continue there regardless of what happens on offense.

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"Adam always kind of plays with a chip on his shoulder,'' Zimmer said.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA VIKINGS
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