Photo credit: Daily Norseman

The Minnesota Vikings will begin their season on September 11 against the New Orleans Saints, which is 35 days away.

Marcus Sherels has been wearing #35 for the Vikings since he entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2010.

He has been the team’s punt returner since 2011 and has developed into one of the best in the league. He has returned five touchdowns in his career, including a career high two last season.

Last season he averaged 13.9 yards per punt return, which was second only to Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs. He was sixth in 2014 (11.0) and second in 2013 (15.2).

Sherels has been a very impressive story. The Rochester, MN native was a walk-on at the University of Minnesota and then became an undrafted free agent.

For his career, he has returned 169 punts for an average of 10.6 yards and five touchdowns. His longest punt return was an 86-yard touchdown in 2013 against the New York Giants.

Sherels has also been good on special teams coverage. He returned 16 kicks each in 2011 and 2012 (27.8 yards per punt and 26.4), but only eight since then. Cordarrelle Patterson was the team’s kick returner the past four seasons and was one of the best in the league. Sherels could perhaps return some more kicks this year with Patterson now with the Oakland Raiders.

Having good special teams all-around can be very underrated, especially when you have a good offense and defense. The Vikings offense has struggled the past four years, but will be improved this year. Sherels’ long returns will help them that much more now.

Like Sherels, Thielen is an MN native, a college walk-on (D-II for him), undrafted free agent and now a key member of the Vikings. Have to love underdog stories, especially when it involves their hometown teams.

You can follow Ali Siddiqui on twitter @asiddiqui15 and @SPOT_Vikings for Vikings news and updates.