Adam Thielen knew change was inevitable, that’s the world of professional football.
So when he heard that Mike Zimmer, a longtime defensive coordinator, would be the next coach of the Minnesota Vikings, the former Minnesota State receiver was excited, ready to accept the challenge of trying to impress a new staff and earn a job in the NFL.
“I’m ready to meet him and get started working with him,” Thielen said, having just wrapped up a workout in the Twin Cities. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about (Zimmer) from other players I know and from what I’ve read about him.”
Thielen spent all of last season on the Vikings’ practice squad. There was one week where veteran Greg Jennings was injured and Jerome Simpson was having some legal troubles where it looked like the receiving corps was a little thin, but he wasn’t activated.
“I was always told to be ready, and I was hoping for the best,” Thielen said. “But it wasn’t my time. I prepared each week like I was going to play Sunday, and I think that’s what helped me get better.”
Thielen said the most important thing he gained from last season was knowledge of the game.
“Watching different players practice and play, I learned a lot,” he said.
The week after the season ended, he signed a futures contract with the Vikings, even though coach Leslie Frazier had been fired. Had general manager Rick Spielman also been fired, Thielen might not have had the opportunity.
“I signed right away,” he said. “I have a lot of work with this general manager, and I need to keep showing them what I can do. I need to stack what I learned last year and build on that.”
Though Spielman remains, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and receivers coach George Stewart may be gone. Thielen gave a lot of credit to Stewart for giving him a chance and helping him to develop. But change is inevitable, and now that it appears veteran coach Norv Turner could be the Vikings’ next offensive coordinator, Thielen did some research, though he has no inside information on any future hires.
“I’m pretty excited to learn a new offense,” Thielen said. “The more you know, the more valuable you are. I accept the challenge.”
Thielen will continue to work out on his own until the Vikings report for offseason activities in April. He knows he needs to keep getting bigger, stronger and faster, and he needs to polish his route-running and work on his pass-catching consistency. When he comes back to Minnesota State for training camp, he wants to take advantage of another opportunity to earn a full-time job.
“I need to keep working hard so I can make that 53-man roster,” he said.
Chad Courrier is a Free Press staff writer. To contact him, call 507-344-6353, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow his Twitter feed @ChadCourrier.