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NOTEBOOK: Thielen Focused on Wins, Not Catch Streak

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Adam Thielen has 43 receptions this season to lead the Vikings.

According to analytics site Pro Football Focus, Thielen hasn't dropped a pass and ranks second in the NFL with "most catchable targets without a drop" behind Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown. 

But that might not be the most impressive feat by the Vikings wide receiver seven games into the 2017 season. 

The Minnesota native has also caught at least five passes in every game this season, the only player to do so in the NFL.

It's a streak that has impressed many — except Thielen himself.

"I see the Vikings post that stuff," Thielen said. "I try not to look at it … it's just playing football.

"That stuff really doesn't reflect on how well you're playing. You have to bring it each week, and it doesn't matter how many catches or how many yards you have in a season," Thielen said. "I'm just trying to help this team win games. Just come and compete in practice and bring that over to that game."

Thielen's 43 receptions are good for third in the NFC and fifth overall in the NFL. And his 529 receiving yards rank first in the conference and fourth in the league.

But the former Division II standout at Minnesota State University, Mankato said Wednesday that he'd rather be known as a well-rounded player around the league.

"When I look at the overall game, it's not just catches. It's being able to block well, too," Thielen said. "I don't know if having that stat really shows how well you played the game.

"You could get 15 or 20 targets, but if you only have five catches, that doesn't mean you had a good game," Thielen added. "I'm trying to win battles each play."

So, what does constitute as success in Thielen's mind? He said it's more about the big picture than himself.

"It's about blocking well and running my routes well so that other guys can get open and be successful so this offense can score points," Thielen said. "And then obviously, when you win a game, it definitely feels like you played better since you won the game."

Thielen set career highs in 2016 in catches (69), yards (967) and touchdowns (five).

He's on pace to top those stats in every category but one, as Thielen as yet to find the end zone this season.

It comes as no surprise that much like his receptions streak, he's hardly worried about that.

"I get a lot of crap about that, for sure," Thielen said with a laugh. "But that's part of the game … you can't think about stats or, 'Man, I don't have a touchdown yet.'

"I've never been a player like that," Thielen added. "I just try to make the plays when they come my way."

Murray moves on from Week 7 performance 

Latavius Murray more than doubled his season rushing total and found the end zone for the first time in 2017 in Sunday's win over Baltimore.

But while the Vikings running back will likely take some confidence into the Week 8 matchup against Cleveland in London, he said Wednesday that game is mostly in the rearview mirror. 

"Not at all. Sunday is over with," Murray said when asked if he was still on a high from his 113-yard performance. "This is a new opportunity for us and another opportunity to add another win."

Murray, who had 97 yards entering Week 7, said he's looking for another repeat performance — and a win — in London. Coincidentally, Murray's best rushing total in a game (139 yards for Oakland in 2015) occurred against Cleveland.

"I'm just happy I could be productive for the offense and for this team, that we were able to do some good enough things to win," Murray said. "That's all I care about, is that I'm productive and helping this offense and not hurting this offense. We do what we need to do on our side of the ball to help this team win."

Forbath reflects on career game

Six times Kai Forbath trotted out try a field goal Sunday against the Ravens, and six times he came away with three more points for the Vikings offense.

The career day by the Vikings kicker — Forbath set a personal best with six makes in a game — earned him the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honor for Week 7.

Forbath said Wednesday he was just happy to help the Vikings improve to 5-2 by doing his job when called upon.

"I don't get to choose how many field goals we kick each game, but I'm just happy we took advantage of the ones that we got," Forbath said.

Forbath added that he just tries to stay consistent each game, noting he relies on the same kicking motion he's used since high school.

"My swing is pretty much the same, but there's little technique things you do in the offseason to get more consistent on kickoffs or field goals," Forbath said. "I change a few things every offseason.

"Every kick you make builds a little confidence in you," Forbath later added. "Even on the next one, I tell myself I'm going 1-for-1 every time I go out there, so that kick is in the past, and I just move on to the next one and focus on making that one."

Filling the void

The Vikings will be without safety Andrew Sendejo on Sunday as the safety will serve a one-game suspension for his hit on Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace from Week 7.

Anthony Harris is a likely candidate to fill in for Sendejo, who missed Minnesota's Week 6 win over Green Bay with an injury.

Vikings safety Harrison Smith said he disagreed with Sendejo's suspension, but added the defense will try to fill the void without him.

"Not happy about him not being able to play," Smith said. "But (I'm) very confident in everybody that's out there — corners, safeties, nickels, whatever.

"Things are going to happen throughout an NFL season. There's ups and downs and things that happen," Smith said. "You have to have depth and guys that come in and play like starters and that's what we have."

Injury Reports

For the Vikings: Kyle Rudolph (knee), Riley Reiff (knee), Jeremiah Sirles (knee) and Stephen Weatherly (knee) did not practice.

Mackensie Alexander (hip), Tramaine Brock (hamstring), Stefon Diggs (groin/ankle), Nick Easton (calf), Adam Thielen (hamstring) and Case Keenum (chest) were limited. Laquon Treadwell (toe) was a full participant.

For the Browns: Trevon Coleman (neck), Jason McCourty (ankle), Larry Ogunjobi (groin), Jabrill Peppers (toe) and Myles Garrett (concussion) did not practice.

Kenny Britt (knee/groin), James Burgess (knee), Jamie Collins (shoulder) and Jamar Taylor (ribs) were limited. Sammy Coates (hamstring) was a full participant.

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