Vikings fans have always had a soft spot for Adam Thielen, a Minnesota native who excelled as a special teams player.
But Thielen has proven himself as more than a one-dimensional player this season, especially on offense.
He is third on the team with 56 catches, is second with 758 yards and has three touchdowns.
John Holler of Viking Update recently chatted with the third-year wide receiver.
*Thielen leads the team in games with at least one catch of 20 or more yards with eight. In his first two seasons, Thielen had just 20 receptions and thinks the biggest difference this year has been getting more chances to make plays to prove himself. *
"The biggest thing for me was just getting the opportunity to be a starter," Thielen said. "I've been on the field a lot, and you definitely grow faster and learn a lot about the game. I think it's just been a matter of taking advantage of those opportunities and getting better each week."
Thielen also talked with Holler about the Vikings-Packers rivalry, as the Border Battle usually features plenty of emotion.
* *"This game is always going to be big," Thielen said. "I think anyone who has ever played for the Vikings or the Packers can tell you what this rivalry means to them. Growing up in Minnesota, I've been around it all my life, and you still get a little extra going on when you step on the field against Green Bay. I expect both teams to come out and give it their best."
Vikings defense wants bounce-back effort
A week after their worst performance of the season, the Vikings defense is chomping at the bit for redemption.
Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune wrote that Minnesota's defense, which has been one of the league's best units for most of the season, expects a better performance Saturday in Green Bay.
*Vikings defenders say they won't get caught sleepwalking at Lambeau Field. *
*If putting behind a self-described "lethargic" game and a 28-point loss to the Colts wasn't enough motivation, a loss on Christmas Eve vs. the rival Packers (8-6) would end the Vikings' (7-7) playoff dreams and place Green Bay one win away from an NFC North title. *
"I just feel like if you can't get excited for this game, why are you playing football?" linebacker Eric Kendricks said.
* *Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn added: "Timing is everything in the NFL. We're both fighting for our lives. We got a very slim chance, and they still have a chance to win the division. They're in a good place right now; we're not."