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Thielen’s well-documented rise now approaching historic heights

Minneapolis Star Tribune 9/30/2022 Ben Goessling, Star Tribune
Adam Thielen celebrated like a soccer star after catching an 18-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter at Twickenham Stadium in 2017 © Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune/Star Tribune/TNS Adam Thielen celebrated like a soccer star after catching an 18-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter at Twickenham Stadium in 2017

WARE, England — On Sunday, the Vikings will play their third game in London in the past nine years. Go searching for an image from their games there, and you're almost guaranteed to come across one of a touchdown celebration in their second game, from a player who was on the practice squad for the first game, is still on the team for the third one and probably wasn't supposed to be there for any of them.

After Adam Thielen caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum at Twickenham Stadium in 2017, he slid into the back of the end zone on his knees with both fists in the air, mimicking a soccer player after scoring a goal. It was Thielen's first touchdown of what would turn out to be a Pro Bowl season, and the eighth receiving TD of his career. He has caught 42 more since then, tying him for third among undrafted receivers in NFL history.

Thielen tied Wes Welker for third place on the list with his first touchdown catch of the season last Sunday. If Thielen scores again on Sunday, he will be behind only Antonio Gates (116 receiving TDs) and Rod Smith (68).

By now, the story of Thielen's rise — from Detroit Lakes to Minnesota State Mankato on a $500 scholarship, and then to the Vikings only after he caught their eye in a 2013 rookie minicamp tryout — is well-worn. And while the receiver still politely indulges questions about it, it's also clear he moved past his origin story a long time ago.

It's worth pausing, though, as Thielen climbs the ranks among undrafted free agents, to reflect on what a remarkable 10-season run it's been for him in Minnesota.

©2022 StarTribune. Visit startribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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