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Vikings report: Thielen catches rave reviews

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) carries the ball during the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium Monday, Sept. 11. Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Defenses supposedly are going to pay closer attention to Adam Thielen after his breakout 2016 season.

If the New Orleans Saints did Monday night, it didn't work.

The Vikings wide receiver caught nine passes for 157 yards in a 29-19 win over the Saints in the opener at U.S. Bank Stadium. For Thielen, it was the second-best showing of his career in both categories.

"I think it just shows how many weapons we have on this offense, they can't really key on anybody because then somebody else is going to make a play,'' Thielen said. "We have a lot of guys.''

Quarterback Sam Bradford said the Vikings went in believing Thielen would be a good matchup against the Saints in the slot.

After having just 20 catches combined in his first two seasons, Thielen broke loose last season with 69 receptions for 967 yards.

The story of Thielen being undrafted out of Division II Minnesota State Mankato and making the Vikings out of a tryout camp is well-chronicled. His agent, Blake Baratz, tweeted Tuesday, Sept. 12, that the feel-good story is now old news.

"My dude, (Thielen), just ballin' out,'' Baratz wrote. "Not a story anymore, just a ball player.''

According to the Vikings, Thielen has more receiving yards than any NFL player since Week 14 of last season. In the past five games, Thielen has 467 yards, including a career day of 12 catches for 202 yards in Week 16 last December at Green Bay.

Bradford's big game

Bradford's performance Monday was historic.

According to the NFL, Bradford and Kansas City's Alex Smith became the first quarterbacks in league history in the opening game to complete 80 percent or more of their passes, throw for at least 325 yards and have at least three touchdown passes with no interceptions.

"He played really well,'' said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.

Bradford completed 27 of 32 passes (84.4 percent) for 346 yards with three touchdowns and a career-high passer rating of 143.0.

"Our guys up front ... gave me time,'' Bradford said. "When I've got time to sit back there and evaluate things, I've got all the confidence in the world that our guys are going to win.''

Robison's new role

It was a new role Monday for Brian Robison, who now backs up Danielle Hunter at defensive end.

When Robison came off the bench against the Saints, it ended a streak of 65 straight starts. The last time Robison didn't start was when he missed a Dec. 23, 2012, game at Houston with a shoulder injury.

It also ended a streak of 95 straight games Robison had played in which he started. The last time Robison had come off the bench was in the 2010 finale at Detroit.

Robison got in for 38 of 62 defensive plays against the Saints. That included some third-down situations in which he was a stand-up defensive tackle.

Hodges waived

The Vikings waived rookie tight end Bucky Hodges off injured reserve.

Hodges, taken in the sixth round of last spring's draft, suffered a concussion in the Aug. 31 preseason finale against Miami. He was waived Sept. 3 with an injury designation and placed on injured reserve after not being claimed by another team.

The Vikings had replaced Hodges as the third tight end with Blake Bell, picked up on waivers from San Francisco.


• Former Vikings Randy Moss, Matt Birk and Steve Hutchinson were among 11 players in their first year of eligibility who were among 108 nominated Tuesday for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

• The Vikings return to practice Wednesday after taking Tuesday off. They have a short week to prepare for Sunday's game at Pittsburgh. "We're basically a day behind, but we're catching up,'' Mike Zimmer said. Minnesota will practice in the late afternoon Wednesday after the early part of the day is spent game planning for the Steelers.

• Zimmer liked how rookie linebacker Ben Gedeon looked in his debut. "I thought for the most part he was in the right place in the run game,'' Zimmer said. "Good for a first-time rookie outing.''