Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson set opposing defensive backfields ablaze during a phenomenal rookie season, but unfortunately, the dawn of his highly anticipated sophomore NFL campaign may be in jeopardy.
Jefferson went down to dig out a low throw on an in-breaking route during Vikings training camp practice on Friday, and seemed to injure his left arm. Here’s video of the play, courtesy of SKOR North:
ESPN’s Adam Schefter later reported Jefferson suffered a sprained AC joint:
Perhaps in part because he played on such a loaded LSU national championship team prior to entering the NFL, Jefferson slid to No. 22 overall in the 2020 draft. Minnesota happily scooped him up, and Jefferson’s stats — 88 receptions, 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns — show just how instantly dominant he was.
Mind you, that elite production from Jefferson came within a Vikings offense that leans heavily on the Dalvin Cook-led rushing attack and features a quarterback in Kirk Cousins whose ceiling as a player is annually doubted. Plus, veteran wideout Adam Thielen is certainly no slouch and commands his fair share of targets.
That Jefferson lived up to and exceeded any reasonable expectations took the sting out of Minnesota trading disgruntled star Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills. Diggs proceeded to lead the NFL with 127 receptions and 1,535 yards in 2020, contributing no small part to Friday’s epic payday for QB Josh Allen.
Sure, Buffalo is thrilled to have Diggs as Allen’s go-to guy, but for Jefferson to be so advanced already suggests he has legitimate Hall of Fame potential.
Jefferson’s abrupt exit from practice was a red flag, but thankfully, the initial reports suggest the severity of his injury isn’t as bad as it could’ve been. Thielen and Jefferson make up one of the NFL’s premier receiver duos, but Minnesota lacks a lot of viable depth behind that pair at the position.
Rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette may be counted on for a bigger role than expected until Jefferson returns to action. Bisi Johnson suffered a torn ACL last week, so the other candidates to step up as a No. 2 receiver include Dede Westbrook and Chad Beebe.