Justin Jefferson on Breakout Vikings WR: ‘He’s the Perfect Teammate’

Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn

Courtesy of Vikings Vikings star receiver called K.J. Osborn the "perfect teammate" following Osborn's game-winning catch over the Lions on September 25, 2022.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn has emerged as the unsung hero of the offense.

The third-year receiver doesn’t see the same attention that his Pro Bowl counterparts in Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson receive.

However, he proved vital to the Vikings’ 28-24 victory over the Detroit Lions, scoring a 28-yard touchdown with 45 seconds left to clinch the game on September 25. It was Osborn’s second-game winning touchdown reception, the first coming in overtime against the Carolina Panthers last season.

Osborn has quietly become an option Kirk Cousins can look to in the clutch, but even more importantly, he’s proven to be what Jefferson calls a “perfect teammate” both on and off the field.

“K.J. is a very quiet person. KJ doesn’t really talk much,” Jefferson said in a September 25 postgame locker room interview. “He’s the guy that always does the right things and he’s just the perfect teammate, really. He’s always doing stuff for you, communicating with you throughout the game. He makes those clutch plays whenever we need him. He’s the perfect person for our team.”

Big Plays Have Become an Expectation of K.J. Osborn, Justin Jefferson Says

Before Osborn burst onto the scene he toiled to just win a roster spot his first two seasons. The 2020 fifth-round pick didn’t play a single offensive snap and lost the starting punt return job after muffing a pair of catches in the opening weeks of the 2020 season.

Osborn emerged from the offseason as a better player. He won the third wide receiver spot in training camp and secured 50 catches for 655 yards and eight touchdowns — five of which he caught in the final six games of the 2021 season.

Osborn, who was selected 154 picks after him in the 2020 draft, after the game, has emerged as Cousins’ go-to receiver in two-minute situations. Osborn has 20 catches on 31 targets in those situations since the start of 2021; Jefferson has 19 catches on 32 targets, and Thielen has 16 catches on 22 targets, per the Star Tribune.

“He puts that work in every single day. Every single day he has that determination to try and be better than he was yesterday,” Jefferson said. “Him coming out here and making these plays, it’s expected for him. We expect that from him. He’s been doing a great job since he started playing last year.”

K.J. Osborn Surfaced as a Clutch WR for Kirk Cousins

Last season, it seemed like every game came down to the wire, putting Cousins in plenty of pass-first situations to mount a comeback.

Since the beginning of the 2021 season, Cousins ranks second in completions (77) and attempts (136) while placing third in yards (840) in two-minute situations, according to the Star Tribune.

Osborn has proven to be a difference-maker in those situations.

“In the two-minute, you sort of have guys in their spots and you don’t really move people around, so it ends up being a more organic way of getting people the football, if that makes sense. It just kind of happens, whoever is open. That’s what happened last year with K.J. a lot in two-minute,” Cousins said in a September 25 postgame press conference. “So the plays he was making in two-minute last year, I realized, there is a lot more to this guy than maybe we’re giving him the [opportunities] to do. When you have Adam, Justin, Dalvin [Cook], Alex Mattison, Irv Smith, you don’t feel the pressing need maybe to give him those [opportunities], but then in two-minute again today he takes advantage of them and shows up.”

Osborn continues to show up for the Vikings, evidenced by Sunday’s game-winning touchdown.

“I play with two amazing wide receivers: Adam Thielen with his 50th touchdown reception today, Justin Jefferson, the best in the league,” Osborn said after Minnesota’s win over the Lions. “So, I know they are going to get a lot of double coverage and things like that, that’s going to leave me wide open or one on one where I can make a play.”

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