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Detroit Lakes native catching on with Vikings

Detroit Lakes, Minn., native Adam Thielen caught the attention of the Minnesota Vikings with his performance in offseason combines. Thielen, a wide receiver, was signed by the Vikings out of a rookie minicamp. Associated Press

Mankato, Minn. - For the last five years, Detroit Lakes native Adam Thielen was one of the thousands of fans watching his favorite NFL team holding training camp on the same field he eventually would star on for the Minnesota State- Mankato football team.

Thielen is a fan no more. Instead, he has a much different perspective now that he is wearing a different shade of purple as a member of the Minnesota Vikings during this year's training camp.

"It's weird being on the other side of the fence," said Thielen, who has been on the Vikings roster since being signed out of a rookie minicamp earlier this spring. "My confidence is rising each day I'm on the field."

Thielen's rise in confidence has been contagious, and he is being noticed by his bosses.

On the first day of training camp, Thielen leaped high for a catch over cornerback Josh Robinson, coming down hard, but holding onto the ball.

It's a scene that Detroit Lakes and MSU-Mankato fans have seen on a constant basis.

"We've seen some good flashes out of Adam," said Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. "He has made some special catches during organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp. ... We've been seeing that consistently out of Adam."

Detroit Lakes High School head coach Flint Motschenbacher is not surprised.

"I've seen some of the best catches on this practice field every day from Adam when he was here," Motschenbacher said.

Thielen has had to scrape and claw his way onto the radar of NFL teams, starting with a very productive career at MSU-Mankato, especially during his senior season when he hauled in 74 catches for 1,176 yards and eight touchdowns.

But it wasn't until he went to a combine in Chicago and then was invited to the regional combine in Dallas where his little blip on the radar became a big one.

"Adam had great production down here in Mankato his senior year, and he was on our radar, but we really got interested in him after the regional combine," said Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. "After that, we invited him to our rookie minicamp, where it worked out well for him, and he showed our coaches and myself that we needed to make a roster spot for him."

Thielen also had an invite to take part in the Carolina Panthers rookie minicamp, but the Vikings signed him before he left Winter Park after their camp.

From then on, Thielen took part in all the Vikings' OTAs and minicamps.

KFAN's Paul Allen, who is also the voice of the Vikings' radio broadcasts, tweeted, "Keep hearing great things about @athielen19 and loved his work at minicamp today. Sturdy kid. Met him, too. Rube at heart. Pulling for him."

Tom Pelissero, who worked for ESPN 1500 and now for USA Today, tweeted during an OTA practice, "Mankato product Adam Thielen seems to do something positive every practice. Just caught a go ball in stride from (Vikings quarterback Matt) Cassel."

Spielman said Thielen's strengths were on display during the OTAs and mini-camps.

"He is fast and a very polished route runner and has excellent hands," Spielman said. "That's exactly what he showed during our minicamps and OTAs."

Wierima is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune