As the 2018 NFL campaign approaches its halftime, history could be made from a player who was on no team’s scouting report five seasons ago. In Week Eight, NFL Regional Combine pioneer Adam Thielen of the Minnesota Vikings may rewrite some pages of the NFL history book.
Thielen recorded nine catches for 110 yards and a touchdown in Week Seven against the New York Jets. He leads the league with 67 receptions and 822 receiving yards this season.
Thielen has recorded at least 100 receiving yards in each of the Vikings’ first seven games this season and can surpass wide receiver Charley Hennigan to become the only player in NFL history with 100 or more receiving yards in each of his team’s first eight games to start a season. Hennigan accomplished this feat in 1961 to start the first seven games.
Thielen is rightfully receiving praises. Still, he prepares for this game as if is playing for a spot.
“Adam has great heart, the biggest heart there is, and he’s a tough kid,” said Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, according to Sporting News. “He doesn’t think there’s a ball he can’t catch, even in practice he lays out for tough catches. He’s always talking about how he can get better. He’s a heckuva football player and I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Vikings wide receiver Brandon Zylstra echoes Zimmer’s impression of Thielen.
“He’s still a humble dude. Going to a small school probably has something to do with that,” voiced Zylstra.
Zylstra is also a native of Minnesota who played at a small program at Concordia-Moorhead. The first year Viking ventured through the NFL Regional Combine like Thielen in 2016 during the Arizona-held trials. Zylstra caught his first NFL pass in Week Seven, which was for 23 yards.
Zylstra is following Thielen’s footsteps and recognizes number 19’s potential.
“He’s (Thielen) a route technician,” added Zylstra. “I know what he did last year but I thought this would be his breakout year.”
With 100 receiving yards against New Orleans Saints, not only will Thielen surpass Hennigan for the most games to start the season with at least 100 receiving yards, but he would join future Hall of Fame wide receiver Calvin Johnson (2012) as the only players to record eight consecutive games with at least the century mark in yards in NFL history.
To go along with Thielen’s potential receiving yards record, he can also join former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Patrick Jeffers as the only players since 1970 with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown reception in five consecutive games. Jeffers totaled those numbers in 1999.
What an inspiration, according to Vikings fullback C.J. Ham.
“He’s (Thielen) definitely inspired me. But now the story is that he’s just a phenomenal wide receiver,” said Ham.
Ham is another small-school talent (Augustana, S.D.) who also is a native of Minnesota. And – bingo – Ham journeyed through the RC process as well as he attended the Minnesota-held workouts in 2016.
Ham has two carries on the season for six yards and eight receptions for 61 yards on the season. Thielen and his merry men of NFL Regional Combine standouts will face the 17th ranked defensive squad in the Saints, which has the sixth worst pass defense in the league.
The Big Three of the RC may have the opportunity to be the first trio from the platform to be on the field at the same Sunday. This can be a great moment for the annual discovery stage.