Adam Thielen finally off Vikings injury report, but absent on the stat sheet in Monday Night Football loss
MINNEAPOLIS -- Adam Thielen was not on the Minnesota Vikings injury report this week.
It marked the first time he hasn't appeared on that list since suffering a hamstring injury Week 7 at Detroit.
But if the Detroit Lakes, Minn., product is, indeed, fully healthy, he and the Vikings have work to do to get Thielen back to his game-changing self.
That was obvious during Minnesota's 23-10 loss to Green Bay in U.S. Bank Stadium, which handed the Packers the NFC North Division title and guaranteed the Vikings will be on the road for the first round of the playoffs in two weeks.
Minnesota's offense sputtered all night and Thielen, who finished fourth in the NFL with 113 catches a season ago, was nowhere to be found.
Thielen's final stat line: 0 catches, 0 yards. He was targeted four times.
It should have been a prime opportunity to get Thielen back in the mix. The Vikings were playing without their top two running backs -- Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison -- and needed someone else to pick up the slack.
It was not Thielen, who hasn't looked like himself since suffering an injury on a 25-yard touchdown reception against the Lions on Oct. 20.
He has been active three times since then.
On Nov. 3 at Kansas City, he played just 10 percent of offensive snaps, getting one target and no catches.
Last week at San Diego, he participated in nearly half of Minnesota's offensive plays. He caught three passes for 27 yards.
Back in the comfort of U.S. Bank Stadium, the former Minnesota State-Mankato wide out was held without a catch at home for the first time since the 2016 season.
His best opportunity came on Minnesota's third drive, when he ran a deep route along the right sideline. Thielen nearly made a diving grab, but the ball popped in-and-out of his hands. Thielen wanted pass interference on the play, but there was no call.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was under heavy duress from the Packers pass rush all night, rarely looked his way the rest of the game. Thielen was targeted once in the second quarter, no times in the third quarter and once in the fourth.
The Vikings did try to get the ball in his hands once on an end-around, but he was stopped for a 2-yard gain.
"You know, we had the third-down ball, we just didn't connect on it," Cousins said when asked about getting in a rhythm with Thielen. "And when you don't convert third downs, you don't have a lot of opportunities for anybody to catch the ball. And then late in the game, it's tough, because they're playing loaded zones, so it's tough to get anybody the ball."
The Vikings will now close the season with a worthless game against the Bears; they're already locked into the No. 6 spot for the playoffs. It's possible that Minnesota could wind up playing against Green Bay again.
"Certainly, the Packers beat us tonight," Cousins said. "So, we've got to go back and look at how and why, and certainly answers to those questions, in theory, should be of some help -- not just if we play them again, but in general. So, we'll have to study that. That would be the silver lining is just learning from the mistakes, so they get corrected and when big games are being played up ahead, they don't repeat themselves."