Just over a week away from the Minnesota Vikings starting the regular season at U.S. Bank Stadium against the Green Bay Packers, Viking receiver Adam Thielen joined Dave Lee on the WCCO Morning News to talk about how the team is preparing for football, despite the challenges of COVID.
Thielen, who will enter the season as the clear number one target for Kirk Cousins following the trade of Stefon Diggs, says not having preseason games has been a strange transition for the team.
"It's definitely different but it is what it is," says Thielen. "As athletes, the good ones learn how to adapt and figure it out as we go. It's not great for these young guys. We were talking about that in the locker room the other day. I wish I could watch some of these guys that are new to our team or rookies. I wish I could see them compete in a preseason game. I really enjoy that part of the game, when you see these guys make a name for themselves and make plays. At the end of the day, this year's a little different and we're just trying to make sure we keep everybody healthy and get ready for the regular season."
Thielen, now one of the team leaders as a veteran receiver, talked about how he has transitioned from a young player trying to make it in the NFL, to someone who is responsible for teaching the new players on the team.
"I talk to these guys a lot, about how I've been able to take things from a lot of different guys," Thielen told Dave Lee. "I was around a lot of good receivers and they all had different qualities that made who they were, made them great. The more experience you have, the more that you're around, you are able to pick and choose little things from each player that apply to your game. I encourage these young guys to do that. Make your game your own, but try to find things from guys you're around, or guys around the league, you can apply to their game. Definitely a different role than back in 2013, but I really enjoy it."
One of the issues facing the Vikings will be a lack of home field advantage without a crowd in U.S. Bank Stadium. Thielen says they're working on piping in crowd noise, but it's not the same as having live fans at a game.
"They came out with something saying they're going to have a specific crowd noise they have to play at a certain decibal level. I'm not sure what that will sound like. I know coach has been playing stuff during practice to get us used to it and at U.S. Bank Stadium the other day we had simulated crowd noise. It's definitely different not having a full stadium. At the end of the day it's still football and we still get to compete and have fun doing it. There will be a lot of people watching and it'll be a great atmosphere in that aspect."
The Vikings are going into the season hoping to repeat the success of 2019 where they made the playoffs as a Wild Card, then upset the Saints in New Orleans before losing to Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco. The Vikings face some stiff competition from the Packers who won the division last season, and with the Bears and Lions also having a shot to compete.
Thielen says at this point, he feels really good about the team even though they haven't been able to compete against other teams yet.