“You’ve said before you always want to be on the guy that’s getting the ball the most is that your attitude then for this week,” a Packers reporter asked in a September 9 interview, referring to the possibility Alexander shadows Justin Jefferson in Week 1.
Alexander replied jokingly, pivoting his sight onto Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.
“Oh yeah, most definitely. They’ll put me on Kirk Cousins for all that matter,” Alexander quipped.
However, Alexander’s next answer harkened back to a play he made on Cousins that in the 2020 season opener that kickstarted Alexander’s 2020 Pro Bowl season and was a harbinger of a poor run of games by the Vikings quarterback.
Packers Corner Jaire Alexander Says He’s Putting Vikings QB Kirk Cousins Into the Ground
In a September 9 locker room interview, Alexander was asked what’d he do if he were to cover Cousins.
“I’m putting him in the ground,” Alexander said.
It was a callback to the 2020 season opener at U.S. Bank Stadium where Alexander sacked Cousins on a corner blitz in the end zone, resulting in a safety that sparked a 12-point swing that gave the Packers a lead they never relinquished in a 43-34 victory on the road.
Alexander intercepted a pass in the second quarter after his safety, smashing Minnesota’s game plan to possess the ball and chew up clock time in the run game.
Repeating his 2020 game would be ideal for Alexander, however, plenty has changed in two years.
Packers Not Underestimating Justin Jefferson
While Jefferson has been a force in the league for the past three seasons, Alexander has yet to face Jefferson when he’s been the focal point of the offense.
Alexander missed the majority of the 2021 season with a shoulder injury and has only faced Jefferson as a starter in Week 8 of the 2020 season. Cousins had led the NFL in interceptions coming out of the bye week, which to Minnesota committing to the run game instead of unleashing Jefferson’s potential at the time. Cousins threw just 14 passes, while Dalvin Cook tallied 226 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns in a 28-23 win.
But under first-year coach Kevin O’Connell, who helped Cooper Kupp lead the NFL in receiving yards last season, Jefferson is expected to see plenty of targets and be moved around the field to produce the best matchups on offense.
Alexander admitted he’d like to shadow Jefferson, but is likely splitting the field with Rasul Douglas.
“Wherever he want to go we’ll have the best guy on him,” Alexander said.
Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry is not taking Jefferson’s role in the offense lightly despite never seeing the 23-year-old receiver deployed in O’Connell’s offense yet.
“I think what makes him special is he has it all – he has size, he has speed … he can play the X receiver on the single side, he can play the Z receiver on the multiple receiver side, he can go in and play the slot position or the F position. They move him all over the place,” Barry said, per Packers.com. They’ll give him fly sweeps, they’ll put him in the backfield and run option routes like a running back does. He’s a do-it-all receiver. He can break you off inside on option routes as a slot receiver, he can line up and run past you on a go ball. He can do a lot of things really well.”