Whether it’s his blocked punt for a touchdown in 2014 or his growing list of highlight-reel catches, wide receiver Adam Thielen has shown a knack for playmaking in his four years with the Vikings.
So why not leave him on the field at all times?
That’s exactly what the Vikings did Monday night.
For the first time in his career, the Detroit Lakes, Minn., native played in every offensive snap during the 29-19 win over the New Orleans Saints.
Quarterback Sam Bradford and four linemen were the only other members of the offense to be involved in all 65 plays from scrimmage.
In 2016, Thielen played no more than 66 percent of the team’s snaps for the first four weeks. His role increased as the year went on, as he carved out a role as a reliable option for Bradford and was involved in over 75 percent of the Vikings’ plays in nine of the final 12 weeks.
All in all, Thielen lined up for 787 of Minnesota’s 1,053 snaps in 2016, good for 74.7 percent. He was the team’s most involved receiver, although Stefon Diggs (65.9 percent) missed three games with a groin injury.
Thielen’s significant role looks to continue in a big way in 2017. The 27-year-old finished Monday night’s game with nine receptions on 10 targets for 157 yards.
Only Pittsburgh’s three-time All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown tallied more receiving yards in Week 1.
It marked Thielen’s fourth career 100-yard game, his third contest with at least 10 targets and his second-best game in terms of yards and receptions, bested only by his 12 catches for 202 yards last season on Christmas Eve at Lambeau Field.
Keep this guy on the grid iron.
Other notes from Monday’s snap counts:
— Riley Reiff, Nick Easton, Pat Elflein, Joe Berger and Mike Remmers played exactly zero snaps as a unit in the preseason. On Monday, they played 63 of 65 snaps together. Quite well, actually.
— Laquon Treadwell had one catch for seven yards, which doubled his career total. He played in a career-high 36 snaps, accounting for 55 percent of the Vikings’ game plan. In his rookie 2016 campaign, the former first-round pick played in 7.5 percent (80 of 1,053) of Minnesota’s total snaps.
— Mackensie Alexander, starting at the nickel corner position, was in for 44 percent (27 snaps) of the action on Monday.
— Safeties Andrew Sendejo and Harrison Smith joined linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks as the four defenders to play in all 62 defensive snaps.
— Just in case you had any doubt that rookie Dalvin Cook is the main Vikings’ running back, he had 51 snaps on offense compared to 11 for Jerick McKinnon and only three for Latavius Murray.
— The only other rookie draft pick to play for Minnesota was linebacker Ben Gedeon. The linebacker saw 16 snaps on defense (26 percent). Rodney Adams, Danny Isidora and Jaleel Johnson were all inactive.