The Minnesota Vikings have hummed right along in the absence of star wide receiver Adam Thielen, but the organization has certainly await his return anxiously given his game-breaking ability.
Now, that return draws ever-closer. Thielen was able to return to practice Friday, a good sign that his hamstring issue is nearing a happy resolution.
The NFL will be put on notice as soon as Thielen returns, as the Vikings have continued to perform despite one of their best offensive weapons being out. However, they did have to fight for victories over the Cowboys and the Broncos, two teams a divisional contender should be able to handle.
That will change in the final five weeks of the season, as the Vikings have to take on two NFC contenders in the Seahawks and the Packers. Thielen will be needed for those games, and will be a huge help against the strong defenses of the Chargers and Bears as well.
Minnesota has been carried by Dalvin Cook all year, but teams have started forcing Kirk Cousins to throw the ball in recent weeks. Stefon Diggs has been exceptional at times and hugely underwhelming at others; the Vikings will need more consistency on offense in order to fight the Packers for the NFC North, who narrowly sit in first place based on a head-to-head tiebreaker.
Thielen would provide that upon his return, and would be a tremendous boost to the Vikings for their Monday night showdown with the Seahawks this week.