Adam Thielen put it simply when envisioning himself lining up across from the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4.
“Little bit weird, honestly,” Thielen said before a telling slip of his words in a Wednesday news conference. “I’ve never game-planned for our defense, or the Vikings defense, I should say.”
Landing with the Carolina Panthers in the offseason, Thielen’s attachment to Minnesota remains strong, evident by a couple of Freudian slips in his news conference, claiming the Vikings defense as his own.
Emotions will be high for Thielen when the Vikings visit Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. He won’t deny there are some hard feelings, but also no love lost as he strives to approach this week like every other in his 11-year career.
“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that since the schedule came out. Was excited that I get to play against Minnesota? Yeah. But I’m just trying to treat it like another football game; I know that’s very cliche to say,” Thielen said.
“I’m going to take advantage of pregame… go say what’s up to everybody you know throughout the organization. I mean shoot, I was there for 10 years so a lot of relationships that I built that are strong relationships that I’m excited to go and see those people and say hello and thank them and tell them how much I appreciate them.
“Then when that whistle blows and I get between those lines, I’m playing football like I do every week.”
Adam Thielen Says Vikings-Panthers Will Feel Like a Playoff Game
Thielen’s reunion with the Vikings will be set aside once the whistle blows as both teams find themselves in a desperate place facing a potential 0-4 start to the season with a loss on Sunday.
The odds of a playoff berth continue to stack against both winless teams who hope will fight to avoid a dreaded 0-4 start. Of 103 teams to start a season 0-4, only one has ever rebounded and made the postseason, according to NFL.com.
That’s created a serious sense of urgency, according to Thielen.
“There’s some serious competitors on that team, as there are on this team,” Thielen said after a Week 3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, per ESPN. “Next week kind of feels like a playoff game, to be honest, just because both teams are fighting and scratching and clawing to get that first win on the board and change momentum.”
Adam Thielen Breaks Panthers Record in Week 3
Last week against the Seahawks, Thielen caught 11 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown, making him the oldest Panthers player (33) in franchise history to surpass 10 catches and 100 yards receiving in a single game.
It was the first time Thielen surpassed 100 yards receiving since Week 6 of the 2021 season.
Thielen leads Carolina with 20 catches for 211 yards receiving and two touchdowns on the season.
No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young was out last week against Seattle with an ankle injury but returned to practice on Wednesday.
The Vikings have a 69% chance of winning and are projected six-point favorites in the matchup, according to Quarter4.