Justin Jefferson Is Doing Justin Jefferson Things

Fired up a No
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) in action during the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings are preparing for the 2023 season. Training camp kicked off, and the players are working with each other trying to get better individually and as a group. Coming off a 13-win season, the expectations are high amongst Vikings fans, although national media is not high on the team because of the departures of some franchise staples. The face of the franchise, however, is still here.

Justin Jefferson Is Doing Justin Jefferson Things

Justin Jefferson Is Doing Justin Jefferson Things
Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson makes a one-handed catch against Bills Cam Lewis to keep a late drive alive. © JAMIE GERMANO / USA TODAY NETWORK.

He is still here and still making plays. No matter who else is on the practice field, when fans are allowed to watch the practices starting Saturday, Jefferson will be the main attraction. Everyone wants to see the reigning Offensive Player of the Year in person, as he is a walking highlight reel. And guess what? That is exactly what he did during Friday’s practice session. Some beat writers tweeted about it but are not allowed to tape anything. The official Vikings account actually posted the clip a couple of hours later.

The caption is perfect. He is indeed different. In fact, his record-breaking career start has been nothing but sensational. Jefferson recorded more receiving yards than any other player through his first three seasons and any other player before turning 24. He also led the league in receiving yards and receptions in 2022 as the youngest ever to do it.

Jefferson made the play against new top cornerback Byron Murphy. Star safety Harrison Smith could only watch him make the play as he was out of reach. The pass from Kirk Cousins was a fantastic throw to the perfect spot, and Jefferson did the rest. He just went up and made the grab. High-pointing the ball is one of his specialties. Cousins and Jefferson’s unique connection on the field is not breaking news.

Team in Football per
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8), wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18), and wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) celebrate the win against the New England Patriots after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The wideout is fully taking on the leadership role, the spot vacated by Adam Thielen when he was released, and he has all kinds of young guys to mentor. First-round pick Jordan Addison and early camp standout Jalen Nailor come to mind. Jefferson talked about his job as a mentor.

We’re with him every step of the way. Just like when I came in Adam [Thielen] was that person for me that took me under his wing and showed me the ropes and taught me how to be a professional. That’s the role that I’m playing with him. Anything that he needs, I’m there for him. We are here to teach him all of the things that he needs to know to be a better player.

Justin Jefferson
Justin Jefferson Weighs in
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) during the first quarter against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Training camp could be big for JJ as he awaits his contract extension. The new deal could be signed at any point, and Jefferson totally deserves it as the face of the franchise. He is the star of the team, has unreal production, and has a great attitude. If there’s a diva receiver in him, he hasn’t shown it one bit. Everyone would understand if he was holding out until he receives a raise, but he is still on the practice field making plays, trying to get better and help others get better.

The offense will once again revolve around Jefferson, who must keep racking up statistics like he’s used to — to keep the team going. He will be the driving force for the 2023 Vikings, and the team will go as far as he and the rest of the offense take them.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt