Patrick Peterson has been one of the best cornerbacks in football for the past decade. As a rookie in 2020, Justin Jefferson emerged as one of the best receivers in the league. They’re now teammates in Minnesota, and they’re pushing each other.
Already bonded by their common college football connection at LSU, they’re facing each other in practice.
On his All Things Covered podcast, Peterson explained that Jefferson did something that had never before happened to Peterson. The youngster called out Peterson.
“Justin didn’t wanna go at no other corner but me,” Peterson said. “That’s my first time I ever got called out.”
Via Heavy.com, Jefferson separately explained his approach.
“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.”
Peterson praised Jefferson’s attitude and work ethic.
“[Jefferson’s] one of those guys who comes into work he’s a pro every efficient in practice just a guy who seems like he’s been in the league for four or five years that’s very rare you can look at a second-year player like he’s been here before, ” Peterson said his podcast, via Heavy.com. “That’s a credit to his family, the way he goes about his business and what he wants his career to be. You can tell he wants to be special and he loves coming to work every day.”
Jefferson blossomed into a first-round pick. He’s now blossoming into one of the best and most important players on the Vikings, already on track to becoming their best receiver since Randy Moss. And the difference comes from the attitude. Moss was naturally special, and he often turned it on and off at a whim. Jefferson has had to work for his success, and it seems like he has no desire to ever flip the switch off. Whereas Moss said, “I play when I want to play,” Jefferson would say, “I want to play all the time.”
“When you’re a rookie first coming in, you’re kinda shy to things you don’t really know exactly what to say — you’re just getting used to everybody,” Jefferson said. “Now, going on my second year, I just feel so comfortable with these guys. . . . I’m just trying to take on that role and to be a leader.”
He has the skill and the accomplishments to do it, after catching 88 passes for 1,400 yards, an all-time rookie record for receiving yards. If Peterson’s presence pushes Jefferson to the next level (and thanks to a 17th game), Calvin Johnson’s single-season mark of 1,942 yards could be the next record to fall.
For the Vikings, there’s a much different objective to having a talent like Jefferson on the team, one that dates back to 1969, 1973, 1974, and 1976.