The matchup inside the matchup, the one between Justin Jefferson and Darius Slay, has all the makings of a heavyweight fight under the lights at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles passed on Jefferson in the draft and now the All-Pro receiver is poised to make them pay.
Jefferson — the 22nd overall pick in 2020, taken one spot after Jalen Reagor — made 9 receptions for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns in Week 1. He is arguably the top pass-catching threat in the entire NFL, with a bank-breaking contract extension in the works. The 23-year-old could have easily been putting pen to paper in Philly, but it wasn’t meant to be. And Jefferson is “way happier” everything worked out the way it did.
“Every mock draft had me going to Philly,” Jefferson told reporters. “So when Philly was on the board, getting the phone call and it being Minnesota, it was definitely a shocker. But I’m definitely happy, way more happier, to be here than there. Just like I said, I’m excited for it [playing the Eagles]. I can’t wait.”
Nick Sirianni wasn’t on staff when the Eagles chose Reagor over Jefferson. He wasn’t about to dive into that debate. However, the Eagles head coach did share his thoughts on the talented receiver for the Minnesota Vikings. Sirianni watched a lot of college tape on Jefferson when he was the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts.
“I remember putting on the tape and going, man, this Justin Jefferson guy is really, really good,” Sirianni said. “Like he’s really quick. He’s got great hands. He runs really good routes. I’ve always admired his game and respected his game. He poses a lot of problems.”
Darius Slay Not Backing Down From Jefferson
The Eagles are hoping Darius Slay can serve as Jefferson’s kryptonite when the two teams meet on Monday Night Football. Slay, a four-time Pro Bowl cornerback, takes pride in covering the opponent’s top receiver and shadowing him around the formation. He’ll be ready for one of the biggest challenges on the schedule.
“I’m always ready to compete. I don’t back down from no challenge,” Slay told The Pivot Podcast. “We gonna get active, that’s what’s gonna happen.”
Slay has been studying Jefferson’s tape, looking for any slight advantage or perceived weakness. He doesn’t have many. In fact, Slay called Jefferson the second-best player at his position after only Davante Adams.
“He crazy good. It’s gonna be a tough one [matchup]. Like I said, I think he probably a top 2 receiver in the league behind Te [Davante Adams]. It’s Te and him. One, two, easily. What Jefferson do is crazy. I’m talking about route running, after the catch, finding that end zone, deep ball, intermediate routes, he does it all.
“He’s the guy you want to have on your team for a No. 1 receiver. For sure. He does it all. And he does it at a high level and he does it with a lot of swag and a lot of confidence. A lot of guys don’t have that. Shoot, he can take the confidence out of you by ‘Griddying’ [Griddy Dance] all through the end zone.”
Eagles-Vikings Injury Report
The Eagles listed eight players on Saturday’s injury report, but all of them were full participants at practice. Left guard Landon Dickerson picked up an illness and tight end Jack Stoll is dealing with an ankle issue. The team gave several veterans — Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Isaac Seumalo, Josh Sweat — routine rest days. Philadelphia appears 100% healthy heading into Week 2.
Meanwhile, the Vikings ruled rookie cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. out with a quad injury. Rookie Akayleb Evans will be the third corner for Minnesota behind starters Patrick Peterson and Cameron Dantzler.