Playing his rookie year in an empty U.S. Bank Stadium due to the pandemic, Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson has yet to experience the energy on hand for the team’s border battles with the Green Bay Packers.
Approaching Sunday’s first meeting with the NFC North-leading Packers, Jefferson spoke on his excitement surrounding his first Vikings-Packers game in a full stadium while backing his big-game readiness.
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‘These Types of Games I Live For’
In a press conference on Thursday, Jefferson described the Vikings’ energy over the week approaching their first matchup with the Packers.
“You can feel the energy around here when we play the Packers,” Jefferson said in a Nov. 18 press conference. “Just the natural rivalry. The hatred we have from both teams.
Jefferson likened the rivalry to the fiery SEC games he played in college at LSU. He described his college days as having even more intensity than NFL rivalries, given the enthusiasm college football sees in the South.
He added that he has no problem rising to the occasion in rivalry games.
“I went to LSU. We played Alabama. We played Florida. We played those types of teams week in week out. These types of games I live for. I’m used to that. I’m playing it like a normal game.”
Jefferson has the numbers to back his claim, too. He broke a College Football Playoff (CFP) record in the semifinals when he tallied the most receptions (14) receiving yards (227) and touchdowns (4) in the Tigers’ 63-28 Peach Bowl romping of Oklahoma.
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LSU went on to cap an undefeated season by defeating Clemson 42-26 in the national championship game. Jefferson had nine catches for 106 yards.
Deep Ball Chemistry
Since entering the NFL in 2020, Jefferson’s 21 catches of 20 yards or more is the most by any receiver in the league.
He credited Kirk Cousins and his own natural development as a receiver to his adept ability to secure deep throws.
“I’m extremely confident,” Jefferson said. “I always tell Kirk, ‘If you see me over there 1-on-1, give me the opportunity go up and make a play. That’s what I love to do.”
Last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Vikings took steps away from their conservative tendencies on offense — instead, feeding Jefferson early and often.
He caught nine of 11 targets for 143 yards, averaging 15.9 yards per catch. Three of his catches went for 20 or more yards.
“We showed if we go up and throw the ball to us, we go and make the play no matter the situation,” Jefferson said of himself and Adam Thielen becoming more significant parts of the offense in Week 10. “That’s what we live for. That’s what we do.”
Whether the Vikings continue to employ a more aggressive, air-raid offense remains to be seen. Jefferson touted his support in whatever decision helps the team win.
“Every week, I just go out there and do the best I can, making the most of the plays that’s thrown my way,” Jefferson said. “That’s more on the quarterback or the OC to determine — if they want to keep coming to me with the ball or how they’re going to have the game plan. I just play ball.”
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