The Los Angeles Rams wide receiver didn’t just watch the Lions on television. He was in the Lions’ locker room and sidelines as a pre-teen, since his father Shawn coached up the Detroit wide receivers.
And who reminded the second-year wideout of those memories? Stafford himself.
“We were just talking about it yesterday,” Jefferson joked on Tuesday with the L.A. media. “He remembers when, I don’t know, I think I was in the sixth or seventh grade. So he knew I was running around to see my dad.”
Jefferson’s Lion Years As a Kid
The elder Jefferson coached the Lions receivers from 2006 to 2012, during the years of Calvin “Megatron” Johnson in the Motor City.
“Megatron” himself described Jefferson as a friend who now plays with Stafford on the Rams.
Van Jefferson was between the ages of 12 to 15 when he was around Stafford, Johnson and the Lions. Stafford, though, arrived to the Lions in 2009 – following Detroit’s abysmal 0-16 campaign in 2008. But in two seasons, Jefferson witnessed the Stafford and Johnson connection carve up NFL defenses.
Before his father left the Lions for the Tennessee Titans, Jefferson got to watch Stafford’s 5,038-yard passing season of 2011.
Jefferson Now Building Chemistry With Stafford
The son of a receiver coach is now enduring what would be labeled as a full circle moment: Reconnecting with someone from his past.
But again, his childhood past involved standing next to Stafford in Detroit.
“It’s just crazy to see him now, and I’m here. Whoever thought that? It’s just a blessing from God,” Jefferson said.
Outside of catching up from the Motor City years, Jefferson spent most of his offseason time catching passes from Stafford in private sessions with him and the Ram receivers at the team’s training facility. Jefferson says Stafford now talks to him in quarterback/receiver lingo: Dissecting on what works on routes and pass timing.
“He just asks me what I like to do on these certain routes so he can get the timing down,” Jefferson said. “I think that’s important too as well. If you want to add something on the route, you’ve got to let him know what spot you’re going to be at. He asks me questions, I ask him questions, so it’s very helpful for the both of us.”
Jefferson, who starred at the University of Florida, is entering his sophomore NFL campaign with high expectations from his head coach Sean McVay, who told reporters back on June 4 that “the future is so bright for this guy.” That means Jefferson is expected to hit past the 19 reception and 220-yard mark he had as a rookie.
Yet, Jefferson is heading into a much more crowded wide receiver room in Irvine for training camp. The Rams not only lured in DeSean Jackson during free agency to pair him with veterans Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, but the team drafted Tutu Atwell (currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list as announced by the team on Monday) and hybrid receiver/tight end Jacob Harris. Jefferson himself is wondering how things will shape up moving forward.
Jefferson, though, does have this advantage in the WR room: He’s been around Stafford before. But does that make him feel old?
“I don’t know,” Jefferson joked, leading to laughs from the L.A. media members.