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NOTEBOOK: Thielen Focused on Wins, Not 1,000-Yard Milestone



EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Adam Thielen is less than 85 receiving yards from hitting a milestone that is often of significant importance to players at his position. 

The Vikings wide receiver said Tuesday that achieving the 1,000-yard mark couldn't be further from his mind this week, not with a pivotal NFC North clash with the Lions looming on Thursday.

"Not even thinking about it," Thielen said. "Honestly, I've got way too much to think about for this week.

"I'm just trying to play my best football and help this team win games. When we're winning, all is good," Thielen added. "I can't even think about yards or anything like that. Each week is a new challenge and a new game."

The former Minnesota State, Mankato standout has a team-high 62 receptions for 916 yards to go along with three scores.

Thielen ranks second in the NFL in yards and is tied for fifth in receptions.

He said Tuesday that he's more concerned with getting a win to split the season series with Detroit.

The Lions earned a 14-7 win over the Vikings in Week 4, but Minnesota hasn't lost since. The Vikings have claimed six straight games to move to 8-2 atop the division.

"For us, we just have to make sure we're preparing," Thielen said. "I know it's a short week, but we've got to pretend like it's a long week and put in the same amount of hours we normally would.

"This is a big game for us. Every game, especially this time of year, is big," Thielen added. "Last week felt like a must-win, and this week feels the same way. We have to prepare and be ready to play."

If Thielen does surpass the 1,000-yard barrier Thursday, he would be the first Vikings player to do so since wide receiver Sidney Rice in 2009.

It would also be the 29th time a Vikings player topped the 1,000-yard plateau. Former Vikings players Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Jake Reed — wide receivers Thielen grew up watching from Detroit Lakes — combined for 18 of the 28 1,000-yard seasons.

Thielen reiterated that he's more about team success than personal milestones, noting that the Vikings are simply trying to get win No. 9 on Thanksgiving Day.

"I just want to play football. That's the best thing about this league is that things happen so quick," Thielen said. "You don't have time to think about things, you just go out there and play, and that's what I love to do.

"When I get out there, that's when I'm the happiest guy because it's just so fun," Thielen added. "It's just like every game I played in high school or college, there's that game-day feel, and there's nothing better than that."


Patience paid off in the both the long and short run for Stephen Weatherly in Sunday's win over the Rams. 

The second-year defensive end played a career-high 28 snaps, helping fill in for veteran Brian Robison, who did not play due to an injury.

Weatherly, a seventh-round pick in 2016 out of Vanderbilt, said he had been hard at work and eagerly waiting for his chance to chip in and help out the defense.

"I was super excited when [Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson] called me [into the game] and had enough faith in me to do my job and be a part of the defense and execute," Weatherly said. "I'm also happy that when I was put in, I was able to make a couple of plays and help the defense out.

"It helps so much, because I feel like this game is a lot about confidence. You come in with the right size and speed, or else I wouldn't be here in the first place. It's all about developing enough confidence, especially behind your moves as a defensive end and as a pass rusher," Weatherly added. "It's about going out and executing, and when something goes your way, you get a little bit better, a little more faith in yourself to try more moves, and more stuff will come from that."

Perhaps Weatherly's most notable play came in the second quarter as the Rams were in the red zone.

Los Angeles running back Todd Gurley took a handoff and went to his right, only to run into his own player as Vikings safety Anthony Harris raced in and blew up the play.

Gurley then cut to his left and tried to get to the other sideline, but Weatherly stayed in his gap and brought down the running back for a 3-yard loss.

Harris would give the Vikings the ball back two plays later on a forced fumble and recovery.

"That's something we work on a lot as a defensive line," Weatherly said of his patient play. "When you're that last line of defense ... it happens very rarely, but you saw it on that play when a running back will try to cut back because he thinks he has enough speed to get on the outside. 

"I was the last line of defense and came from the outside," Weatherly added. "[Linebacker] Eric Kendricks was coming in inside-out, and we were able to make a good vice tackle on that one."

Weatherly also showed flashes as a pass rusher, but said he's worked to improve his all-around game.

"For me in that game, it was back to basics — striking, setting an edge, rallying to the ball," Weatherly said. "We practice that every day in practice, just run to the ball and hit the guy that has it. That was something I was able to do.

"And then in pass rush situations, just keep working and pressing an edge," Weatherly said. "I was able to get back there and cause a little pressure."

Injury reports

For the Vikings: Brian Robison (back), Mike Remmers (concussion) and Andrew Sendejo (groin/hamstring) were limited. Mackensie Alexander (ankle), Xavier Rhodes (calf), Emmanuel Lamur (knee), Everson Griffen (foot) and Harris (hamstring) were full participants.

For the Lions: Jamal Agnew (knee) and Dwayne Washington (hip) did not participate. Ezekiel Ansah (back) was limited and Jalen Reeves-Maybin (ankle) was a full participant.

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