Vikings Wide receiver Justin Jefferson grew up admiring Odell Beckham, Jr., and said he was like an older brother to him. On Monday night, Jefferson could break one of his mentor’s NFL records.
Jefferson needs 68 yards against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field to surpass Beckham’s 2,755 yards in his first two seasons. Beckham, now with the Los Angeles Rams, accomplished the feat with the New York Giants in 2014 and 2015.
“It’s going to mean a lot,” Jefferson said Friday. “It will be interesting to name his name with the connection that we connect. It is definitely a great honor to be included in the list of great personalities in the world. ”
Beckham played for LSU from 2011-13, where he was a teammate in his first season with Jefferson’s brother, quarterback Jordan Jefferson. Then Justin got to know Beckham well and he himself starred at Leningrad State University in 2017-19.
Jefferson caught 88 assists last season, and his 1,400 yards was the second-highest scoring rookie in NFL history. He improved the 1,305 yards Beckham had for the Giants as a rookie in 2014.
In the second season, Beckham had 1,450 yards. And with 1,288 yards on 85 hauls this season and four games remaining, Jefferson should far surpass that number.
Jefferson is nearing the end of the NFL’s first season of 17 games with 111 catches at 1,684 yards. That would surpass Randy Moss’s 1632-yard team record set in the 2003 season of 16 games.
“I think he is a very confident player and a great player, and he is one of those guys who, whatever you see, he expects more from himself,” said former Vikings star receiver Ahmad Rashad. “If you see him catching two touchdowns, he expects to catch five. I really enjoy watching him play. He has energy, he is such a wise young man with the way he travels his routes, and he has it all. He has great hands, great speed. ”
Rashad, who played for Minnesota from 1976 to 1982, regularly watches Viking games with his friend and neighbor Michael Jordan in Jupiter, Florida. He said that he and the Hall of Fame basketball player marveled at how Jefferson continued to improve after breaking Moss. rookie records in catch and yards last season.
“After last season, I really wanted to just watch a movie and look at things that I needed to focus on or that I felt weak about,” Jefferson said. “Things like a blast, a more explosive hit from the ball, better release, and just getting in and out of breaks at the top of my routes. So I feel like I’m doing pretty well with these things. ”
Jefferson made his way to the Pro Bowl last season and was the second professional player. Rashad said he “absolutely” needs to be a versatile first-team player this season, and Jefferson hasn’t denied that it’s a goal.
“This is definitely what I want to do,” he said. “This is one of the things I wanted to achieve this season.”
Jefferson threatens to break the record every time he enters the field. He had 143 yards against the Los Angeles Chargers on November 14, 169 yards against Green Bay on November 21 and 182 yards in Detroit on December 5.
Sammy White, former Viking star receiver, believes Jefferson will break his own 1976 team record of 210 yards in a game “very soon.” White was also impressed by Jefferson’s continued improvement.
“He’s better than his rookie year,” White said. “He plays so confidently. He feels that there is no way you can stop him. I think his knowledge of offense and everything has improved. I think he understands what the defenses are trying to do. ”
Vikings offensive coordinator Clint Kubiak said Jefferson’s work ethic was key to his development.
“He always improves with a set of skills, but I would say only mentally,” said Kubyak. “We put a lot on him, we move to different places. He has really taken up the challenge and is running with it. He studies hard. ”
This could lead Jefferson to cross the Beckham line for a second straight game. On December 9 against Pittsburgh, Jefferson joined Moss and Beckham as the only two hosts in NFL history with 1,250 yards in each of the first two seasons.