LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The loss still stings. That's to be expected. Adam Thielen just watched his dream of playing in the Super Bowl, which would have been a home game for Minnesota, fade away when the Eagles beat the Vikings 38-7 in the NFC Championship Game.
It has put a slight damper on Thielen fully enjoying this career-defining moment of making it to the Pro Bowl.
Thielen, who is from Minnesota and played at Minnesota State University-Mankato, was an undrafted free agent in 2013. But he has become a standout NFL receiver and was an excellent Fantasy option in 2017.
He just had a career season with 91 catches for 1,276 yards and four touchdowns on 143 targets, which made him the No. 14 Fantasy receiver in standard leagues. Thielen also became the first Vikings receiver since Sidney Rice in 2009 to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.
"It's crazy," Thielen said of making it to the Pro Bowl. "Honestly, it's weird because when you're in the moment, it's just football. You don't really think about that this is where you strive to be. You don't really think about that. What an honor. I just love being out here and playing football with these guys."
Thielen got to make the Pro Bowl this year with several of his teammates, including Kyle Rudolph, Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith and Linval Joseph. Rhodes, who is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, said facing Thielen in practice every day makes both players better.
But Rhodes wanted to make sure everyone knows who wins the majority of those battles.
"I lock him down," Rhodes said. "It's as simple as that. He would tell you different that he routes me up. No, I lock him down. I wish you guys could come to our practices and watch me jam him at the line. We're going to film it and put it on social media this year so we can all see."
Those practice sessions for the upcoming 2018 season will likely be important because the Vikings will have a new offensive coordinator and potentially a new quarterback. Former offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is now the new head coach for the Giants, and all three Vikings quarterbacks from 2017 -- Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater -- are impending free agents.
The Vikings have already started working on trying to replace Shurmur. According to reports, current quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski will interview for the job, along with former Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who held the same position with Minnesota from 2006-10 under Brad Childress. Former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo is also potential candidate for the job.
Thielen has no idea who will be the new playcaller in Minnesota, but he's used to this kind of change.
"It's going to be interesting," Thielen said. "I really don't know what's going to happen. That's just part of this league. I've already had three offensive coordinators so far. This will be my fourth offensive coordinator and a lot of quarterbacks. I'm used to it."
Rudolph said he will miss Shurmur, who was his tight ends coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2016. He added that Shumur will be great for the Giants, especially Evan Engram, Odell Beckham and Eli Manning.
"Pat's one of the best coaches I've ever played for," said Rudolph, who was the No. 7 Fantasy tight end in standard leagues in 2017 with 57 catches for 532 yards and eight touchdowns on 81 targets. "He'll get the most out of all those guys."
As for the quarterbacks, Thielen and Rudolph wouldn't mind keeping the status quo with Keenum, Bradford and Bridgewater returning to Minnesota and competing for the starting job. Rudolph said "all of them are awesome," and "I've caught plenty of balls from all three of them."
Thielen was also complimentary of the trio.
"A lot of teams are trying to find one quarterback, and we had three that could really play at a high level," Thielen said. "No preference. I'll leave that up to the GM and coaching staff to figure out."
Whoever ends up as the starting quarterback for the Vikings -- and don't rule out the team adding a veteran like Kirk Cousins or Alex Smith -- will be stepping into a great situation as far as the skill players on offense. Along with Thielen and Rudolph, Minnesota has another standout receiver in Stefon Diggs, as well as a promising running back in Dalvin Cook.
Diggs finished the season as the No. 18 Fantasy receiver in standard leagues with 64 catches for 849 yards and eight touchdowns on 95 targets. And Cook was having a great start to his rookie season before suffering a torn ACL in Week 4. He's expected to make a full recovery in time for next season.
Before getting hurt, Cook had 74 carries for 354 yards (4.8 yards per carry) and two touchdowns and 11 catches for 90 yards. Based on a 16-game season, he would have finished with 296 carries for 1,416 yards and eight touchdowns and 44 catches for 360 yards.
"He was phenomenal," Rudolph said of Cook. "All offseason, before we even put the pads on, you knew he was going to be special. He would probably be here (at the Pro Bowl) if he didn't get hurt. He's a special player."
We'll see who ends up calling plays for the Vikings and who gets the quarterback job, but Thielen and Diggs will be solid No. 2 Fantasy receivers in all leagues worth drafting no later than Round 5. Cook, if he's healthy as expected, will be drafted in Round 2 or 3. And Rudolph will once again be a top 10 tight end worth drafting with a mid-round pick.
It should be a good year for the Vikings in 2018 -- in Fantasy and reality.
"The foundation is laid in Minnesota for us to be good for a long time," Rudolph said. "We're excited about what's to come."