EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Adam Thielen had run through the fake punt play a number of times at practice. When he heard it called Week 17 at Green Bay, however, it was the real deal. Go time.
A situation that may have caused nerves generated only excitement for Thielen, a Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, native who had grown up watching countless Vikings-Packers matchups.
Thielen didn't feel the bite of the 25-degree weather or the green-and-gold crowd noise of Lambeau Field when he received the football from long snapper Kevin McDermott. He cradled the pigskin, ran around the edge and sprinted 41 yards down the sideline to pick up the first down and put the offense back on the field. Thielen's splashy dash led to a field goal and helped the Vikings dethrone the Packers as division champions.
In two-plus active seasons with Minnesota, Thielen has seen his hard work pay off. After joining the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2013, he spent a year on the practice squad before offering glimpses of potential on special teams throughout his next two seasons.
Thielen produced an impressive training camp and preseason heading into year three and now proudly takes the field as part of the purple and gold's young receiving corps. He caught four passes for 54 yards and recorded two special teams tackles at Tennessee in Minnesota's season-opening 25-16 win.
We caught up with Adam for a recent Timeout.
Q: What's your favorite part of being a gym owner?
A:Being able to go in and work out whenever I want, and also that I'm able to go and work out with the youth in that community and have fun in the offseason.
Q: What's your favorite workout?
A:My favorite workout is "Four Quarter Friday" – my trainer Ryan [Engelbert] puts us through it. It's my favorite and my least favorite all in one, because it's definitely not the easiest.
Q: What went through your head on the fake punt play?
A:It's just one of those things where you've been practicing it all season, and when you finally get the play called, you just have to make it work. The guys did a great job blocking, and basically the only thing going through my mind was, 'Get the first down,' and whatever happened after that was a bonus.
Q: As a Minnesotan, what's it like to play for the Vikings?
A:It's great – I take a lot of pride in it. I grew up a fan, and I just want to make sure I'm doing everything I can to help this football team win games and reach the goals that [we've set].
Q: How much bigger is the Green Bay rivalry for you?
A:It's big, because I always grew up watching those rivalry games. It's always been a great rivalry with a lot of excitement around that game. In this locker room, it means something to us – obviously it's a division opponent, so I think all those games are big.
Q: What were your first impressions of U.S. Bank Stadium?
A:Unbelievable. It's a great feel – it feels like you're outside, but you're inside and get the inside elements. It definitely feels like home.
Q: What's your most memorable NFL moment so far?
A:I think just getting to that playoff game. It's finally an achievement that I hadn't reached individually, and obviously that was a goal of ours as a team. Just to be able to get to the playoffs – obviously we would have liked to go farther, but every year we want to go and keep getting better.
Q: I know you and your wife are expecting a son this fall. What about fatherhood are you most excited about?
A:I think just being able to influence him in his life and just to be able to go through the growing pains and help him out, help mentor him in whatever he needs. My wife is super excited just to be able to bring life into this world.
Q: Do you and Caitlin have a name picked out?
A:We do, but we're not sharing yet.
Q: Have any teammates given you parenting advice?
A:Yeah, a few guys. I think it's been more sleep advice than parenting advice. But no, I think every guy that has a kid on the team just says it's the best thing in the world, and they couldn't be happier for me and my wife, Caitlin.