Before he became one of the NFL’s most feared wide receivers, Adam Thielen was a little-used player who totaled only 20 catches his first two seasons.
But, Thielen said Friday that the time he spent with former Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater changed his career. Bridgewater spent four years with the Vikings before joining the Saints last offseason. The Vikings host the Saints on Sunday.
“His impact — really all of the years he was here — was huge,” Thielen said Thursday (via the Vikings website). “I know personally, I probably wouldn’t be the receiver I am today without him.”
An undrafted free agent out of Minnesota State, Thielen posted solid numbers the past two seasons, averaging 80 catches and 1,121 yards.
But, he has taken his game to a new level this season, leading the NFL in receptions (67) and receiving yards (822). He has also set a record by beginning the season with seven straight games with 100-plus yards — only Calvin Johnson, who had eight straight 100-plus yard games in 2012, has had a longer streak.
Thielen credits Bridgewater for working closely with the Vikings receivers both during the season, and even training with them in the offseason.
Bridgewater’s influence continued last season, even as the QB continued his comeback from a devastating injury that cost him the entire 2016 season.
“He kind of thought like a receiver, so it was really cool to have him as a quarterback that really thought like a receiver,” Thielen said. “And I remember so many times last year after a game, he’d come up to me and say, ‘Hey, you could have done this better, you could have done that better.’
“Just so many things that I wasn’t thinking about that he was thinking about was really cool.”