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Vikings’ Adam Thielen recovering well after ‘pretty easy surgery’ on ankle

Pro Bowl receiver expected back in spring

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen walks off the field dejected after he was injured against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press
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MINNEAPOLIS -- There doesn’t seem to be any question about whether Minnesota Vikings receiver Adam Thielen, who had surgery two weeks ago on his left ankle, will be ready for spring drills in April.

Thielen suffered a high left ankle sprain on Dec. 5 at Detroit, missed two games, and then was reinjured in a Dec. 26 game against the Los Angeles Rams. He missed the final two games of the season after he had surgery on Dec. 28.

“Feel great,” Thielen said Monday. “Walking around again, which feels nice. … My ankle wasn’t stable, so I had to do the surgery, which was a bummer, obviously. I want to be out there competing with my teammates. … It was a bummer not to be able to finish out the year, but it could have been a lot worse. It’s a pretty easy surgery, and everything went pretty well.”

Thielen, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, said it won’t be long before he is fully recovered.

“It’s a pretty easy recovery, a few more weeks here and I should be feeling back to normal,” he said. “Just trying to take advantage of every day and get back to where I can begin training again and focusing on getting better and trying to help this team win.”


Before his injury, Thielen was closing in on his third 1,000-yard season. Thielen, who has been with the Vikings the past nine seasons, including eight on the active roster, finished 2021 with 67 catches for 726 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games.

“It really was the best I’d felt in my entire career,” Thielen, 31, said of before he hurt his ankle. “Really thankful to the people around me, the people that train me all offseason, help me put a plan together. … It’s encouraging this was the best I’d felt and it was year 9. Excited about what year 10 can hold for me individually and, obviously, as a team.”

Kendricks on Barr

For 11 of the past 12 seasons, linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr have been teammates. Kendricks got emotional Monday when talking about how next season that might change.

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Eric Kendricks

Kendricks and Barr were both at UCLA from 2010-13, and were college roommates. After Barr joined the Vikings in 2014, Kendricks arrived a year later. And now Barr could be leaving the team when he becomes a free agent in March.

“It’s been a crazy ride me and A.B. have had,” Kendricks said. “Shoot, crazy. I’m still processing it now.”

Speaking on a Zoom call, Kendricks then paused while holding back tears. He said it pained him to see Barr miss the final 14 games in 2020 after shoulder surgery and then sit out the first four games in 2021 due to knee issues.

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Anthony Barr

“Obviously, last year he was hurt, that was upsetting,” Kendricks said. “He came in this year and he was down again at the beginning of the year. … It hurt me to see him hurt like that, especially with the work he’s put in. But the last remainder of the season, he played so strong.”

Kendricks said he was “very happy” to see Barr have a game-high 11 tackles, including two sacks, in Sunday’s 31-17 win over Chicago in the finale. Kendricks, who was on the COVID-19 reserve list, watched from afar what was perhaps Barr’s final game for Minnesota.


“That’s my guy,” Kendricks said.

Players signed from practice squad

Against Monday’s backdrop of the Vikings firing general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer, there was still business going on in preparation for next season.

The Vikings signed eight players off the practice squad to futures deals: wide receivers Myron Mitchell and Trishton Jackson, linebacker Tuf Borland, defensive tackle T.J. Smith, tackle Timon Parris, cornerback Parry Nickerson, safety Myles Dorn and running back A.J. Rose Jr. All saw game action in 2021 for the Vikings except Jackson, Parris and Rose.

The Vikings offered cornerback Tye Smith a futures deal. But a source said Smith, a six-year veteran who played in five games for the Vikings in 2021, wants to wait and see what happens with the new general manager and coach before possibly re-signing.

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