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Thielen, Diggs Step in as Punt Returners Against Bears

CHICAGO –For the first time since 2010, it wasn't Marcus Sherels standing downfield to return punts.

Adam Thielen was the primary fill-in at Chicago on Monday night for Sherels, who was sidelined with a wrist injury.

Sherels has been a mainstay at fielding punts since 2011. Cordarrelle Patterson made one fair catch of a punt in 2013. Patterson also received credit for nine yards in Week 1 this season after a reverse, but that play was started with Sherels fielding the punt. Other than that, it's been all-Sherels, all the time.

In the 2015 preseason, the Vikings had Stefon Diggs and Thielen join Sherels in returning punts. Diggs returned 10 a total of 217 yards, Sherels returned six for 60 yards and Thielen returned three for 36 yards.

Thielen's lone opportunity to return occurred late in the first quarter, when Chicago's Pat O'Donnell kicked a 51-yard punt. Thielen fielded the ball and made a four-yard return, the first regular-season punt return of his career.

The Bears punted five times in the division matchup, two of them resulting in touchbacks.

"If they call my number, I have to go make a play and try to do my best in whatever position they put me in," Thielen said after **Minnesota’s 20-10 loss to Chicago**. "I think I could have done better, and we'll look at the film and correct some things.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Vikings used Diggs as a returner, and he advanced the ball seven yards after a 53-yard punt by O'Donnell. Diggs made a second return for four yards inside the final 20 seconds of the game.

The Bears were also without their primary punt returner, Eddie Royal. Prior to being injured, Royal had logged 13 runs for 153 yards. Cre'Von LeBlanc was Chicago's stand-in at punt returner. On three opportunities, LeBlanc averaged eight yards per return.

Jeff Locke punted seven times for Minnesota, averaging 44.1 yards per kick. On his second punt of the evening, Locke recorded a 71-yard boot, the longest of his career. Locke's previous long was a 65-yard punt as a rookie during the 2013 season.

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