Detroit Lakes native signs contract with Vikings
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- After being invited to try out for the Minnesota Vikings last week during the team's rookie mini-camp, Detroit Lakes native Adam Thielen wound up with a new job.
Thielen took a physical for the Vikings on Monday and signed a contract with the team. He will report to Winter Park next Monday for team workouts, hoping to land a place on the wide receiving corps.
The former Detroit Lakes athlete impressed the Vikings' coaching staff enough to offer him a contract and the chance to make the 53-player roster during training camp, which starts July 26.
The Vikings train at Minnesota State-Mankato, Thielen's alma mater.
Thielen made the most of his opportunity after he was invited to try out for the Vikings Thursday through Sunday, with the hurdle of being star struck nonexistent.
"They gave me every opportunity that they gave everyone else, and I went in with the mindset that I belonged there," Thielen said of the rookie mini-camp. "It just reminded me how much I love the game of football."
Thielen ran plenty of routes during the five-day mini-camp, which had all of the Vikings' 2013 draft picks, along with the first- and second-year invitees.
The Viking draft class included No. 29 overall pick, Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
"C.P. is a real good guy and he helped me out a lot," Thielen said of Patterson. "It was fun meeting with him and striking up a friendship with him."
But make no mistake about it; Thielen didn't enter the mini-camp intimidated or just being happy to make it that far.
Vikings receivers coach George Stewart gave positive reactions to Thielen throughout the mini-camp, offering the former Mavericks wideout plenty of encouragement and advice.
"Coach Stewart is an amazing coach and he's been around the NFL a long time," Thielen said. "In the four days I was there, I learned a lot from him."
That led to Thielen's meeting with Vikings head coach Leslie Frasier, who broke the news to him Sunday that the team was going to offer him a contract after he completed his physical.
"You'd think one would be star struck, but I felt comfortable talking with coach Frasier and I already felt a part of the team," Thielen said.
At Minnesota-Mankato, Thielen recorded 74 catches for 1,176 yards with eight touchdowns during his senior season. He finished as the Mavericks' second all-time leading receiver with 198 receptions, and third in yardage with 2,802 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Thielen has legit NFL receiver size at 6-3 and 200 pounds, while possessing top-end speed at 4.45 seconds to 4.49 seconds.
With the full team reporting to Winter Park for workouts and OTAs Monday, Thielen will start getting to know his new teammates, such as Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Greg Jennings and the players who will be delivering the ball to him -- quarterbacks Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Joe Webb.
Thielen also worked at punt and kick returning during the rookie mini-camp, and it's a path the former Laker knows he may have to take if he is to make the team.
It's also something he excelled at in Mankato, after becoming one of the team's all-time punt returners.
"Playing special teams is another way to make the team, so I am going to focus on getting better as an overall football player," Thielen said. "I am not going to worry about the issues I can't handle, but just to become the best football player I can be for the Vikings."
Thielen will now have a spot at training camp, which will be held on his former home field at the Mankato campus.
"Yeah, that's really cool, playing on the same field I played on in college," Thielen added. "It will take some nerves away."
Thielen is expecting the basic minimum NFL contract, but he is focusing on other matters first. It's getting better as a player, which is first and foremost on his mind.
But if Thielen earns a spot on the final 53-man roster -- which will be decided after training camp -- the minimum rookie salary in 2012 was $390,000.
Another option is the practice squad, which consists of eight players who can practice with the team but not play in games.
The minimum salary for a practice squad player was $5,700 per week in 2012.
"The biggest thing I am looking forward to is to see how much better I can get as a player, though," he said. "I'm looking forward to football becoming my job."
It's an opportunity of a lifetime, and after Monday, work will begin for the first-ever NFL player who hails from Detroit Lakes.