Vikings rookie Justin Jefferson’s patience paid off.
After seeing just six targets in his first two games, offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak made it a point that its time to take the training wheels off Kirk Cousins’ newest offensive weapon Justin.
And the rookie burnt rubber from the jump.
Jefferson became the first Vikings rookie since Randy Moss to surpass 100 receiving yards in the first half of the Vikings’ loss to the Titans on Sunday, catching six passes for 104 yards — the third-highest total among all NFL players and most among rookies this season. He finished the game with caught seven catches for 175 yards and a touchdown.
•1 Touchdown pic.twitter.com/fx6sYIiTeU
— Matt Anderson (@MattAndersonNFL) September 27, 2020
His performance was the third-highest yardage total by a rookie behind Sammy White’s 210 yards as a rookie in 1976 and Moss’ 190 yards in 1998.
Jefferson has the most receiving yards in his first three games of any Vikings rookie in history.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) September 27, 2020
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Jefferson Hits the “Griddy” For His 1st NFL TD
Jefferson’s day was highlighted by a 71-yard touchdown reception where he scorched past Titans cornerback Johnathon Joseph, cut to the middle of the field with safety Kenny Vaccaro converging — sending Vaccaro into a collision with Joseph and nothing but a cloud of dust as Jefferson galloped and his trademark “Griddy” dance into the end zone.
This man just Griddy'd all the way to the end zone‼️ Too much 😂 pic.twitter.com/YWWYzao52t
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) September 27, 2020
The touchdown was paydirt for Jefferson who had watched former LSU teammate Clyde Edwards-Helaire hit the “Griddy” in the NFL season opener with the Chiefs.
— Brooks Kubena (@BKubena) September 11, 2020
The dance move has been a sensation in the NFL as several other players have borrowed the move for their celebrations.
Russell Gage nearly threw a TD today. Now, he’s caught a TD.
— Shea Dixon (@Sheadixon) September 20, 2020
Jefferson Emerges As the True No. 2 WR
Bisi Johnson was declared the Vikings No. 2 wide receiver in training camp as fans and pundits around the NFL began tempering their expectations of Jefferson, the No. 22 overall pick in last year’s draft.
Jefferson and Johnson’s snap counts were fairly even through the first two weeks with Johnson out-snapping Jefferson 75-65 in the first two games.
But against the Titans, Jefferson got going early and made his case as the true No. 2 wide receiver behind Adam Thielen — out-snapping Johnson 51-5. He proved vital in the Vikings’ offensive improvements as six of his catches went for first downs — the other was his touchdown.
Once thought as just a slot wide receiver who benefited from the LSU offensive scheme, Jefferson showed he’s able to gain separation and make contested catches on the outside — where he caught four of his passes from.
Justin Jefferson MOSSING Malcom Butler pic.twitter.com/LCv4exmL73
— Football Analysis (@FBallAnalysis) September 27, 2020
Moving forward, Jefferson should see his involvement in the offense continue to grow as offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak can incorporate him more into the game plan.
Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.