Justin Jefferson is pushing himself to be better in 2021 by going up against Patrick Peterson every snap.
It’s always about improving in the NFL. Can Justin Jefferson be even better in 2021?
Last season, the Minnesota Vikings traded away Stefon Diggs for the No. 22 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. That would become Jefferson, the “other” LSU wide receiver on the national championship squad.
The NFL is a different game than college, meaning Bengals’ rookie Ja’Marr Chase is living in Jefferson’s shadow after his first season with the Vikings. The rookie set the record for most receiving yards (1,400) by a first-year player in NFL history, surpassing Anquan Boldin’s 1,377 yards in 2003.
Now, Jefferson wants to be better than ever before. How he’s starting? Calling out All-Pro veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson during practice.
“Justin didn’t wanna go at no other corner but me,” Peterson said on the All Things Covered Podcast. “That’s my first time I ever got called out.”
Vikings: Peterson’s push could make Jefferson special
Peterson agreed to a one-year deal with Minnesota in hopes of fixing a putrid secondary from 2020. Despite playing a decade with the Arizona Cardinals, Peterson will be 31 this season and could have ample playing time left.
According to Heavy.com, Jefferson’s approach is simple — to be the best, one must beat the best. And Peterson? On his best days, he’s a top-caliber cornerback.
“I’ve been trying to apply some of the pressure to Pat Pete,” Jefferson said. “Him being one of the top corners in the league and going up against him at practice that only makes us better as receivers. You don’t get to see a guy like Pat Pete every single game. He’s a great corner. He’s so smart. He’s so patient. Definitely trying to work some new moves on him and seeing what works and what don’t work.”
One season won’t define a career, but the Vikings haven’t seen a receiver flourish this fast since Randy Moss in 1998. Jefferson led all rookie last season in receiving yards. During the 1998 campaign, Moss led the league with 17 touchdowns.
What works best is the respect aspect. Jefferson prides Peterson on his drive and success since leaving LSU in 2011. Peterson has praised Jefferson’s work ethic and attitude throughout the start of his young career.
Minnesota is looking to return to the postseason for the first time since 2019. As camp begins, Peterson and Jefferson will continue to push each other for better results.
In the end, the callout in practice could be what’s needed for both players to elevate their games and push the Vikings into top tier status for 2021.