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Vikings' Adam Thielen tough test for Jets' depleted secondary

Minnesota Vikings' Adam Thielen celebrates after scoring a

Minnesota Vikings' Adam Thielen celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, in Philadelphia. Credit: AP / Matt Rourke

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The Jets will have to come up with a creative defensive game plan to limit Vikings receiver Adam Thielen on Sunday. Todd Bowles has watched plenty of video on Thielen to see how teams are covering him.

“They’re not,” Bowles said.

It was a perfectly timed quip and went over well in his Thursday news conference, but there is some truth to it.

Thielen has been the most targeted receiver in the NFL this year. Kirk Cousins has thrown to him 79 times. Thielen also leads the league in catches (58) and receiving yards (712). He’s the only player with 100 yards receiving in each of the first six games.

At full strength, the Jets would have their hands full against Thielen. But when they go for their third straight win, they are not going to be at full strength in the secondary.

Safety Marcus Maye (broken thumb) has been ruled out for Sunday’s game. It also seems unlikely that cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson (quadriceps) and Buster Skrine (concussion) will play. Both missed last week’s game and neither has practiced this week. So the Jets are going to need other players to step up.

But as Bowles and defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said, it’s not just Thielen who is a major threat. The Vikings are talented throughout the offense.

Cousins has completed 71.2 percent of his passes and has thrown for 1,921 yards and 12 touchdowns. Receiver Stefon Diggs is a threat in the short passing game as well as downfield. Tight end Kyle Rudolph is always a target in the red zone.

The Vikings also have a two-headed backfield of Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray.  Cook has missed the past two games with a hamstring issue. Murray rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown in his last game.

“It’s hard because they have more than just [Thielen],” Bowles said. “The tight ends are good, the other receivers are good and the quarterback is good, and they’re running the ball as well. It’s not just Thielen that you face, it’s the Vikings as a whole.

“They do a good job mixing things up as far as zone and man and they’re getting all the other guys involved. I don’t think it’s just a product of him.”

The Jets’ defense has bent but has not broken during this two-game winning streak. They could try a more ball-control approach on offense in an attempt to keep it out of Cousins’ hands.

The Jets did that last week and dominated the time of possession against Indianapolis, but they still gave up 34 points and four touchdown passes to Andrew Luck. The Jets also forced four turnovers. But the Vikings are the most complete offense the Jets will have faced to this point.

“Those guys are very talented,” Rodgers said. “It’s challenging. They really know how to get open and they’re good at extending drives on third down. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

Notes & quotes: Bowles said the Jets likely will make a move to add a receiver because they’re going to be shorthanded at that position as well. Quincy Enunwa (ankle) is out and Terrelle Pryor (groin) is trending in that direction, but Robby Anderson practiced Thursday after sitting out Wednesday’s practice with a hamstring issue. They could promote Deontay Burnett from the practice quad. “We have some things in place,” Bowles said, “but we’ll wait until [Friday] before we execute one way or the other.” . . . Running back Isaiah Crowell (foot) didn’t practice.


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