The Adam Thielen Way: Vikings Sign Native Minnesotan

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Lifelong Vikings fan Adam Thielen joined the team in 2013 and got to play for the same team as Randy Moss, a player he idolized as a kid. He recorded 6,682 receiving yards, the fourth most in franchise history. His 534 receptions and 55 scores rank third, only trailing Moss and Cris Carter, two Hall of Famers.

The Vikings released him after his tenth season with the team, a move that hurt fans. He lived not just his dream. He lived the dream of all Vikings fans, playing for his favorite team and becoming a club legend.

The Adam Thielen Way: Vikings Sign Native Minnesotan

Thielen’s path began in the rookie tryouts. He was invited after an eye-opening regional combine, an event he had to pay for. The Vikings signed him because of a strong rookie minicamp, and he was on the preseason and training camp roster. He didn’t make the final cut but was signed to the practice squad. One year later, in 2014, Thielen was a part of the final 53-man roster and made his NFL debut in Week 5. This is how the career of a star began.

The Adam Thielen Way: Vikings Sign Native Minnesotan
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A new Vikings rookie wants to go the same route. After a successful rookie tryout, tight end Zach Ojile landed a deal with the Vikes. His hometown is Blaine, Minnesota, and he played college football at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Ojile played four seasons and recorded 61 catches for 702 yards and 10 touchdowns in 40 games. He also rushed 87 times for 418 yards and 14 TDs, playing some running back for the Bulldogs.

His alma mater announced the signing on Twitter.

The word fullback is interesting. If the Vikings consider him a fullback, he will have difficulty making the roster. Minnesota employs C.J. Ham, one of the best in the business. He is an excellent blocker and can catch out of the backfield. In addition to that, he is a fabulous special teamer. Ham also signed a new contract extension a couple of months ago and will not go anywhere in the next two years.

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Ojile’s way to the 53-man roster won’t be much easier as a tight end. T.J. Hockenson was an outstanding addition last season and is the unquestioned starter. The Vikings also signed Josh Oliver to the roster. He received a lucrative contract.

Behind the duo, the team still has Johnny Mundt, who surprisingly played a wonderful 2022 campaign after carving out a nice role as a strong blocker and decent receiver. And then there are last year’s draft pick Nick Muse and blocking specialist Ben Ellefson. Only three or four will be on the team when the season kicks off on September 10.

Ojile could be a versatile hybrid of the two positions, and suddenly, Thielen isn’t the only player with similarities. According to VikingsTerritory‘s Dustin Baker, “If this guy actually somehow makes the 53-man roster at any point, fans will revel in the Jim Kleinsasser-like parallels. The FB-TE hybrid role, local connection, and vibes are rather eerie. Thankfully, the Vikings didn’t spend a 2nd-Round pick on Ojile as they did for Kleinsasser two decades ago.”

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No matter the position, an undrafted player is unlikely to make the roster, especially one who wasn’t immediately signed after the draft and had to go to a rookie tryout. The way to make it is by working hard, excelling on special teams, and showing enough potential. Even the Thielen route, one year on the practice squad, is possible. Nevertheless, Ojile is a player fans will root for come training camp and preseason.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt