MINNEAPOLIS Adam Thielen wasn’t even in high school yet

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MINNEAPOLIS Adam Thielen wasn’t even in high school yet

Postby linchao » Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:45 am

when Larry Fitzgerald entered the NFL in 2004 with Arizona with the acclaim of the third overall pick in the draft.Nine years later Minnesota Vikings T-Shirts , Thielen needed a rookie tryout camp with Minnesota just to earn a roster spot. It took a season on the practice squad and two more years spent mostly on special teams to set him up to break out as one of the league’s best wide receivers 鈥?and underdog stories.More Vikings coverageVikings coordinators: Defending Brees, Holton Hill’s role, a Minneapolis Miracle story and moreWATCH: The second annual Minnesota Sports AwardsVikings welcome Everson Griffen back to practiceVikings captain Griffen returns to team activitiesVikings Snap Counts: Rookie Hill shines with Rhodes ailingWith Fitzgerald’s impeccable career with the Cardinals (1-4) winding down,Thielen’s has just begun to take off with the Vikings (2-2-1). Though they play the same position and won’t actually face each other on the field, the matchup Sunday has created an opportunity for these Minnesota-raised pass catchers and summer golfing pals to reflect on their paths to success. And their admiration for each other.“Being born and raised in Minnesota like him, it just makes me so damn proud to see him doing the things he’s doing, but not just on the field. The way he carries himself, the constant professional, the teammate he is,” said Fitzgerald, who will decide this winter whether to come back for a 16th season. “Being around him at different events, the guy is class personified, and it just makes me so, so happy to see somebody like that be rewarded.”Fitzgerald, as a teenage ball boy for the Vikings in the late 1990s, befriended Cris Carter and Randy Moss and was able to glean up-close tips he used to develop into one of the most well-rounded and well-conditioned players at this glamorous position. He has missed only six games in 15 years.Thielen grew up watching Carter, Moss and eventually Fitzgerald on TV.“I just know how hard he works and how successful he’s been,” Thielen said, “and I’ve really tried to emulate what I’ve done from him.”They first met during one of Fitzgerald’s summer visits to his hometown, where he has often led workouts for quarterbacks and receivers in the area right before training camps begin. Like Fitzgerald, Thielen has flourished as a smart and sharp route runner who’s capable of winning a matchup at any spot in the formation. His durability compares, too, with perfect attendance on the field to date in his sixth NFL season.“Early in your career you don’t understand how hard guys work, especially the guys who play a long time and are successful,” Thielen said. “So that was something for me, like, ‘Wow, this guy has been successful for a long time. He’s still out here grinding in the summer when he probably doesn’t need to.””Here are some other key angles to follow on Sunday:CHALLENGE OF CHANDLERThe Vikings are well aware of the danger posed by Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones, who had six tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup last week against the 49ers to win the NFC defensive player of the week award.“He can take over a game at any time. I just hope he can continue to progress in that direction,” coach Steve Wilks said.Jones, who led the NFL last season with a franchise-record 17 sacks and has a league-leading 32 sacks and 48 tackles for loss since arriving in Arizona in 2016, has 13 tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble and a touchdown return of a blocked field goal in matchups with Minnesota in 2015 and 2016.RUNNING BEHINDDespite the presence of one of the NFL’s most dynamic running backs, David Johnson, the Cardinals rank last in the NFL in rushing with an average of 64.6 yards per game. Johnson has 242 rushing yards, plus 120 receiving yards. Averaging just 3.3 yards per rush, Johnson has had little space in which to use his skills behind a struggling offensive line. He led the NFL in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns in 2016.“We definitely can play better https://www.minnesotavikingsshop.com/hats , without a doubt,” Wilks said. “I think if you asked those guys that question, they’d tell you the same thing: too inconsistent.”RUNNING BEHIND, PART TWOThe Vikings are second to last in the league in rushing with an average of 65.8 yards per game, after ranking seventh last season. Running back Dalvin Cook has been held out of two of the last three games because of a hamstring injury, but he’s on track to return against the Cardinals. The blocking has been spotty, but the Vikings have also faced double-digit-point deficits in the second half of three of their five games.“There’s no one in this building who wants to run the ball more than I do,” offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said. “Because it takes a lot of pressure off me.”TURNING THE CORNERAfter sitting out against the Eagles because of a concussion, cornerback Trae Waynes has returned to action this week for the Vikings. Due to injuries to his knee, his ankle and then his head, Waynes has also missed the second half of three games this season.“It’s part of the game. Injuries happen,” Waynes said. “You’ve just got to overcome them.”Rookie Mike Hughes has played the left cornerback spot when Waynes was out, but the first-round draft pick will be able to move back inside to the slot when the Vikings are in their nickel defense.“He’s got great quickness and talent, and he’s a good kid,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “Works real hard, trying to get better, asks a lot of questions. So I’ve been pleased with him.”LONG TIMEThe Cardinals have not won in Minnesota in nine visits since 1977, 11 seasons before they moved from St. Louis to the Phoenix area.ARIZONA (1-4) at MINNESOTA (2-2-1)Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, FoxOPENING LINE Vikings by 11RECORD VS. SPREAD Arizona 3-2, Minnesota 2-2-1SERIES RECORD Vikings lead 16-11LAST MEETING Vikings beat Cardinals 30-24, Nov. 20, 2016LAST WEEK Cardinals beat 49ers 28-12; Vikings beat Eagles 23-21AP PRO32 RANKING Cardinals No. 30, Vikings No. 9CARDINALS OFFENSE OVERALL (32), RUSH (32), PASS (31)CARDINALS DEFENSE OVERALL (24), RUSH (31), PASS (13)VIKINGS OFFENSE OVERALL (14), RUSH (31), PASS (3)VIKINGS DEFENSE OVERALL (21), RUSH (13), PASS (25)STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald plays in hometown for sixth time in 15-year career, with average of 87.4 receiving yards per game but no touchdowns. … Cardinals QB Josh Rosen coming off first career NFL victory. … Cardinals RB David Johnson has combined 53 touches, 283 yards from scrimmage and two TDs in two career games vs. Vikings. … Cardinals DE Chandler Jones has 13 tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble and TD return of blocked FG in two career games vs. Vikings. … Backup QB Sam Bradford is one of six players on Cardinals who’ve spent time with Vikings. … Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is first player in NFL history to complete at least 30 passes in four straight games. … Vikings WR Adam Thielen leads league in receptions (47) and is second in yards (589). He’s also first in third-down catches (14). … Thielen is third player in NFL history with five 100-yard games to start season, joining Charley Hennigan (seven games for Houston Oilers in 1961) and Bob Boyd (five games for Los Angeles Rams in 1954). … Minnesota DE Danielle Hunter has a sack in each of first five games. … Despite slipping significantly in yards and points allowed after leading NFL in both categories last season, Vikings’ defense is third in league on third downs with 29.6 percent conversion rate (16 of 54). … Fantasy tip: Vikings aiming for return of RB Dalvin Cook, who has missed two of last three games to hamstring injury. Cardinals have allowed league-most eight rushing TDs. MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings screamed at Stefon Diggs to step out of bounds once he secured the leaping catch at the sideline , seeking to stop the clock for a long field goal try just after the New Orleans Saints had taken a late lead in their NFC divisional-round playoff game last season .Diggs spun around instead, pressed his hand on the turf to keep his balance and sprinted the remaining 34 yards for the game-ending 61-yard touchdown pass that became known as the Minneapolis Miracle.That throw-catch-run will forever be one of the most memorable plays in NFL history.With the Saints set to visit the Vikings on Sunday night in a prime-time reprise of their instant classic, the coaches and players on both sides were trying their best to forget it — as inevitable as the replays have been throughout the week.“We’ll just have to deal with watching that last play again another 15 times Minnesota Vikings Hoodie , another 20 times, but that’s part of it,” said Saints coach Sean Payton, who sounded more disturbed by a failure by his offense to convert a third-and-1 on the previous drive that would have further limited the time the Vikings had to rally.If Saints safety Marcus Williams had tackled Diggs instead of trying an ill-fated undercut, the story of that game would have been about yet another comeback engineered by Drew Brees.“We did everything we could at the end of that game to go win it, and unfortunately they made a great play that allowed them to win it,” Brees said. “So I let it go pretty quick. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”Though he remains a promising second-year player, Williams has had a hard time handling his infamy .“It’s another game,” he repeated each time the subject was broached by reporters this week.Even Diggs ducked the media this week. As for the revenge factor? The Saints dismissed that as fast as Diggs raced to the end zone that day. The Vikings did, too.“I think the Saints will come in with a chip on their shoulder because that’s who they are,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.Here are some other key angles to follow for the game:BRILLIANT BREESAt age 39, Brees has completed better than 77 percent of his passes this season for 1,870 yards, 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. In beating the Baltimore Ravens last week, Brees became the fourth player in NFL history with 500 or more career touchdown passes.The Vikings might be without top cornerback Xavier Rhodes, which could mean a big test for rookie Holton Hill.“I’m really not worried about this guy as far as the game being too big for him or anything like that if he has to play,” Zimmer said of Hill. “I feel like he’s a competitor. But he’s going to get in some matchups that may not be great.”THE BASICSWith the whiff by Williams at the worst possible time as a prime example, there’s no defensive skill more vital than tackling. The Vikings have been burned more than usual this season in pass coverage, but they’ve been sound on the ground with an average of 89.7 rushing yards allowed per game. With cornerback Trae Waynes, safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Eric Kendricks among the standouts, the Vikings have some of the surest tacklers in the league.“In today’s NFL, the way everybody’s playing in space now, if you’re not a good tackler in space it makes it really hard to be a good defensive team,” Zimmer said.GOING FOR ITThe Saints have run a fourth-down offensive play eight times in six games, converting seven.“That gives us confidence when you’ve got a coach that believes in his players,” running back Alvin Kamara said. “It’s cool to have that type of coach where he gives us opportunities to prove ourselves.”The Vikings have stopped four of the seven fourth-down plays against them. During their current three-game winning streak, they’ve thwarted 28 of 32 third downs and reclaimed the top spot in the league with a 23.4 percent conversion rate allowed.HILL’S ASCENTLast season, the Saints began to experiment with third-string quarterback Taysom Hill’s versatility by letting him cover kicks. This year, he has on several short-yardage occasions replaced Brees under center as a change-of-pace, read-option quarterback. Hill also has executed fake punts as a runner and a thrower, caught a pass and even took his first pitch as a running back last week.“He’s powerful. He’s got speed,” Kamara said. “I love having him. I wouldn’t want him to be nowhere else.”TEDDY TALKBetween Brees and Hill on the depth chart is Teddy Bridgewater, who was acquired in a trade with the New York Jets two months ago. Though he’s not likely to see the field, this will be Bridgewater’s first visit to Minnesota as an opponent after playing his first four seasons for the Vikings.“He’s got a lot of really good traits. You can tell he’s a guy that guys really like and will follow, and that’s what you need at the quarterback position,” Brees said.If Bridgewater had not suffered that devastating knee injury in 2016, he’d probably still be the face of the franchise in Minnesota instead of Kirk Cousins.“Like I’ve said a million times, I thought he’d be the quarterback for the rest of my career,” Zimmer said. “I love the kid. I love his nature, competitiveness, everything about him.”

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