It seems there’s rarely a day where Adam Thielen isn’t giving 110 percent.
Thielen returned to Orlando this week for his second consecutive Pro Bowl week, during which he put on quite the performance in the Skills Showdown.
The receiver is gleaning whatever he can from the week’s practices, as well. He spoke with Vikings.com after Friday’s NFC practice session and talked about learning from talented players – and coaches – from across the league.
“Some of the guys … have been playing in this league for a long time, on both sides of the ball,” Thielen said. “And then coaches, too. You get around a different coordinator, different system, so it’s kind of fun to get around other systems and learn what other teams are doing.
“Some of these guys were here last year, and it’s really cool to just see our relationships from the last year and then throughout the season,” he added. “It’s just a really cool experience to pick their brains, see what’s been successful [for them].”
Thielen also appreciates the opportunity for fan interaction and has felt the love from No. 19 supporters who traveled from near and far to see their favorite player in the all-star game festivities.
He described the fans as coming out “in bunches” to the practices.
“Obviously we can’t get to every one of them, but it’s fun to go and communicate, talk to them,” Thielen said. “And [they’re not all from Minnesota], so it’s kind of cool. It’s fans from a lot of different cities, different states, and they’re big Vikings fans.”
No longer looked at as a small-town kid who overcame the odds, Thielen has quickly risen to be among the NFL’s top receivers. Asked if he’s had a chance to look back over the past few years and reflect over the journey, he emphasized that there be time for that down the road.
“I think when I’m done playing, I’ll reflect,” Thielen said. “Right now I’m just trying to keep getting better, keep hanging out with my family, [and I’m] focusing on that for the offseasons.”
Vikings players Adam Thielen, Anthony Barr, Harrison Smith and Danielle Hunter completed their final practice on Friday for the Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
Amid all of his work, Thielen will find time to play while in Florida. He and his family plan to check out Disney World on Saturday, and he’s looking forward to seeing his 2-year-old son, Asher, experience the theme park.
And on Sunday?
Thielen, who scored a touchdown for the NFC team in last year’s Pro Bowl, will be happy if he just gets in the mix.
“I’m just hoping I have one catch. That’s all I care about. One catch, and I’m good,” Thielen laughed.
He wouldn’t be disappointed if a teammate made a play worth celebrating, though. Along with Thielen, Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter will represent the Vikings in the game Sunday.
“I always love when Harry gets a pick and takes it to the house,” said Thielen of Smith, who added a pick six for the NFC last year. “Hopefully he does that again this week.”
Barr recalls earlier Pro Bowl experience
While Thielen is saving the reflection for later, Barr had some fun reminiscing about a former Pro Bowl experience.
The linebacker, who has received four consecutive invites to the all-star game, recalled his second Pro Bowl experience after the 2016 season. It was there he first saw in person the talent of Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, a rookie at the time.
“I was on punt [team], it was the first punt of the game, and they kicked it to Tyreek Hill, and I was not prepared for this man’s speed,” Barr said. “He absolutely blew by me and Harrison, and we were just like, ‘Thank God we don’t have to play this guy multiple times a season.’ ”
There’s one opponent Barr has played multiple times a season, however, that he’s looking forward to facing again.
Tight end Eric Ebron spent four seasons in the NFC North with the Lions before signing with the Colts for the 2018 campaign. Barr didn’t see Ebron all season but will play against the now-AFC foe this weekend.
“He had a great year [with Indianapolis],” Barr said of Ebron, who scored a career-high 13 touchdowns. “I’m looking forward to lighting him up on Sunday.”
Owatonna representing in Orlando
Two members of the Owatonna High School football team are representing their squad in Orlando this week.
Owatonna Head Coach Jeff Williams, who has held the role since 1996, was named the High School Sports Rally Coach of the Year in November. Along with the award came a trip to the Pro Bowl, where he will be up against 31 other markets’ selected coaches. During Sunday’s game, one of the nominees will be named the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year.
One of Williams’ players also is in Orlando this week for the Pro Bowl. Running back Jason Williamson has been a standout for the Huskies and was named Mr. Football in December.
Williamson, who has committed to play at the University of Minnesota, competed Friday afternoon in the Play 60 High School Skills Showdown at ESPN Wide World of Sports.