Vikings Lose Adam Thielen for the Season: Report

Adam Thielen

Getty Adam Thielen underwent season-ending ankle surgery on December 29, 2021, per The Athletic.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his ankle, The Athletic’s Chad Graff reported.

Thielen returned to the playing field after missing two games due to a left high-ankle sprain but reaggravated the injury in the Vikings’ Week 16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

He initially suffered the injury early in a Week 13 loss to the Detroit Lions. Theilen ends the season with 67 receptions for 726 yards and a team-leading 10 touchdowns in 13 games.

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Recovery Rushed?

The talk surrounding Thielen’s return to action last Sunday was how far the receiver had come just two weeks removed from a high-ankle sprain injury.

After an MRI result deemed Thielen’s initial injury was not season-ending, Fantasy Doctor’s Jesse Morse  projected Thielen to miss at least three weeks, and the injury was still “potentially season-ending.”

Thielen, 31, has taken his health seriously throughout the beginning of his career, most recently adjusted his training habits and diet with his trainer and business partner Ryan Englebert.

“I kind of stepped back and just addressed my nutrition, strength training, performance, all that,” Thielen said, per the Star Tribune. “Just kind of looked at it from an outside perspective and tried to figure out what I could do better, what I was doing well from a recovery standpoint.”

However, with the stakes high last Sunday, it appears the risk of re-injury was also significant.

The Vikings must now move on without Thielen approaching a must-win primetime matchup Sunday on the road against the Green Bay Packers. If the Vikings win, they keep their playoff hopes alive with a 51% chance of making the postseason, per FiveThirtyEight.

A loss would virtually eliminate the Vikings from playoff contention, rendering their Week 18 season finale with the Chicago Bears meaningless.

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Next Man Up

Thielen has been regarded as one of the best red-zone weapons in the NFL. Since Justin Jefferson emerged as the team’s best threat to move the chains, Thielen has transitioned into a smaller, yet equally pivotal role in the offense.

Thielen’s 22 red-zone touchdowns since 2020 are the most of any player in the NFL. He’s also caught 29 of 37 red-zone targets for a 78.3% catch rate.

Second-year receiver K.J. Osborn has stepped up in Thielen’s stead. Osborn has made several clutch catches this season, including an overtime game-winner against the Carolina Panthers.

Jefferson will likely take on more red-zone looks after recently saying the offense should play more aggressively in the red zone after last Sunday’s loss to the Rams. Kirk Cousins threw the ball eight times inside the 20, targeting Jefferson just once.

“We’ll have to bring them along quickly,” Cousins said Wednesday, referring to the younger receivers. “They’ll be ready to step up.”

Fourth-round rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette has recently seen more playing time and could continue to trend that direction along with veteran receiver Dede Westbrook.

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