Skip to main content

EAGAN/ZOOM -- With the news breaking Wednesday that Adam Thielen was placed on I.R. after undergoing season-ending ankle surgery, the Vikings will no longer have to wonder each week if they’ll have one of their top two pass-catchers.

For the final two games, and seemingly any potential playoff action, Thielen is out and K.J. Osborn is in. Thielen’s season will end with 726 yards and a team-high 10 touchdowns.

While yardage totals might be down from Thielen’s peak, his impact has remained high. Thielen’s yards per reception hit a career-low this year at 10.8, but his 130.9 passer rating when targeted was a career-best. While the downfield throws have been reserved for Justin Jefferson, Thielen has gotten ample bang for his buck when targeted.

“Adam’s such a great player,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said Wednesday. “He’s been so productive. He’s a great leader on our team. So it’s tough to not have him.”

With the exception of a handful of drives, Thielen will end up missing almost six complete games to end the year. He appeared to aggravate his high ankle sprain several times against the Los Angeles Rams despite optimistic statements during the week about his rehab.

His absence has coincided with a noticeable dropoff for the Vikings offense. Cousins’ passer rating was 105.3 prior to Thielen’s injury but just 89.1 since. Has accuracy pre-injury was 67.7 percent; since the injury it’s 62.4 percent.

Subscribe: Sign up to receive the free Purple Insider newsletter. 

And Thielen’s bread and butter, the red zone, has also taken a hit. Over the previous three games, the Vikings are six of 11 in the red zone, ranking 16th in the league over that span.

The Vikings have been a top 10 red zone each of the last three seasons, largely because of Thielen. Only Sunday’s opponent, Davante Adams, has more red zone touchdowns since the Cousins-Thielen partnership began in 2018. Adams has a sizable lead with 38, but Thielen comes in second with 29.

“He’s a magnet when we get down there – I always tell him that,” said Dalvin Cook. “The ball always seems to find him in the end zone. We’re going to miss that in the red zone. That’s why in the NFL, it’s a next guy up mentality. You’ve got to have some younger guys step up. We’ll have some guys make some plays that nobody thinks are going to make plays, so we’ve got to have some younger guys step up and make some plays in the shoes of Adam.”

To his credit, Osborn has stepped in with three touchdowns — two in the red zone — since Thielen’s injury, but he also let a red zone target deflect off his hands last Sunday for a Rams interception. Jefferson also has three red zone scores in that stretch.

But beyond Osborn, the Vikings haven’t gotten much from their secondary pass-catchers all season. Wide receivers besides Thielen, Osborn and Jefferson only have 11 total receptions, and tight ends besides Tyler Conklin only have six.

Jefferson certainly has the capability to carry the bulk of the passing game, but Thielen’s precision in big spots will be sorely missed, and obviously the team’s offensive depth takes a hit.

“We’re going to miss him out there on the football field,” said Cook. “He’s that vocal guy, that guy that brings that juice every day. You can expect that same Adam every day. I’m going to miss him. There really haven’t been too many games where I’ve touched the field without him since I got here.”

Next Up


Two youths seriously injured after being struck by driver in Bloomington

Police say the boy is in a critical condition, while the girl has severe injuries.

Rosedale Center

Two men sentenced for carjacking in Rosedale Center parking lot

Leon Kismit Bell, 49, and Jack Mitchell Piche, 23, were sentenced in U.S. District Court on Jan. 20.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 3.59.30 PM

Police identify White Bear Lake officer shot while serving warrant

The officer is a six-year veteran of the department.

abortion, planned parenthood

Minnesota Senate passes bill codifying abortion into state law

Having already passed in the House, it will now be sent to Gov. Tim Walz for signing into law.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Tyre Nichols: Initial police version of events bear similarities to George Floyd killing

Memphis PD said Nichols complained of 'shortness of breath' following 'confrontations' with police, who in reality violently beat him.

George Floyd, protest

Twin Cities authorities preparing for community reaction to Tyre Nichols video

The ATF division in St. Paul sent out an alert out of "an abundance of caution."

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 2.12.05 PM

Changes at K102's Chris Carr & Company, with Sam Sansevere joining as co-host

She is the daughter of former KQRS morning show personality Bob Sansevere.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 1.16.21 PM

Minneapolis' Royal Foundry Craft Spirits announces closure

The distillery set out to infuse the Minneapolis craft cocktail scene with British flavor.


Shutterfly to cut almost 100 jobs at Shakopee facility

The layoffs are expected to impact multiple positions within the company.



Vikings must continue building out receiving corps in 2022

Justin Jefferson headlines a young, promising group, but more depth is still needed

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

The biggest personnel decisions facing the new GM

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has some tricky personnel decisions coming up in the near future

20211128_Vikings_49ers_REG12_0144 (1)

What changes are coming to the Vikings' offensive line?

Once again, Minnesota has work to do to figure out its interior spots

1114_LA-112 (1)

A certain defensive look keeps stymying the Vikings' offense

Kirk Cousins may have to revert to some shorter throws if defenses take away explosive plays


Offensive targets for the Vikings in free agency

The Vikings will be looking for offensive line starters and pass-catching depth.

Justin Jefferson

Justin Jefferson criticizes offense after Sunday's loss to the Rams

The star receiver demanded more aggressiveness after the Vikings went two of five in the red zone.

Kevin O'Connell

Will Kevin O'Connell duplicate the Rams' offense in Minnesota?

A look back to see how closely recent hires have stuck to their former team's plan


Zimmer is still searching for silver linings with the Vikings' run defense

The Vikings got gashed on the ground in their two most recent losses