So much for the statement Minnesota Vikings players sent out last month. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson said Tuesday, May 11, he will show up in Eagan for Monday’s start of in-person offseason drills and plenty of teammates will join him.
Vikings players released a statement April 19 saying “many of us” will skip in-person voluntary workouts this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to Jefferson, that won’t necessarily be the case.
“I plan (to attend),’’ Jefferson said on a conference call for Building Better Lives, a charity partnership he has embarked upon with Optimum Nutrition. “Most of the guys are attending, so we all thought it was going to be a good idea to get a quick start and to really build that connection again.”
Phase 1 of offseason drills began April 19 with virtual work. Phase two runs from May 17-21 at the TCO Performance Center and includes on-field drills with coaches and phase three features organized team activities and a minicamp on the field from May 24-June 17. All participation is considered voluntary with the exception of the June 15-17 minicamp.
Jefferson last season broke Randy Moss’ rookie team records with 88 catches and 1,400 yards. He’s fired up about returning to Minnesota to get started on next season, and believes he can be even better.
“I’m excited for this season,’’ he said. “I feel like we have a good chance of making it to the playoffs and going far and hopefully getting a Super Bowl. … (My ceiling can be) as high as I want it to be. Just got to keep improving on my game. There’s a lot of stuff that I need to fix from last season.
“Just trying to be versatile and trying do some inside and outside. Just trying to learn from whomever I can. Just been watching some of the best receivers in the league and just trying to learn from them and trying to pick up some new moves.”
Jefferson named Davante Adams of Green Bay, Odell Beckham Jr. of Cleveland and Keenan Allen of the Los Angeles Chargers as receivers from which he wants to “steal some of their moves.” Adams is the other NFL player partnering with Building Better Lives.
The program aims to build awareness and to address the disparities in access to fitness, provide free online coaching and expert advice at OnBuildingBetterLives.com and support lasting fitness resources in under-resourced areas. To start with, Jefferson will do work in his hometown of St. Rose, La., which is just outside New Orleans, and Adams will do so in his hometown of Palo Alto, Calif.
The plan eventually is for Jefferson to also do some work with the program in Minnesota. For now, he’s excited about helping out in St. Rose.
“It means so much, honestly,’’ Jefferson said. “To be growing up from that community, just being around so many people and for them to bring so much love to me, I definitely want to give back to them.”
Jefferson said hall of fame safety Ed Reed has played a “big role” in the receiver wanting to help the community. Reed attended Destrehan High School two decades before Jefferson did, and has maintained an active role with the school.
“He gave us a brand new weight room, a brand new turf field, so him being able to give back to the community and seeing all the different athletes that he had (helped), I definitely want to be in that same boat,’’ said Jefferson, taken with the No. 22 in the draft last year after winning a national championship with LSU.
Jefferson called Reed the “only hall of fame player in our community,’’ He’ll be playing alongside a future hall of famer next season that he also long has known. The Vikings in March signed cornerback Patrick Peterson, who played at LSU a decade before Jefferson did, and one of his teammates was Jordan Jefferson, the receiver’s brother.
“I’m so excited to have Patrick Peterson, a former Tiger that played with my brother, and have so many memories and different things with him,’’ Jefferson said.
Jefferson reiterated Tuesday that he wants one day be inducted into the Canton, Ohio, shrine. For now, Jefferson’s jersey and gloves are on display at the hall after last season he had the second-most yards receiving by a rookie in NFL history.
“It’s been crazy, man,’’ Jefferson said. “It’s been a dream since I won the national championship at LSU. Ever since then, everything has been falling in place for me. I mean, it’s just been crazy. And only to be in the league one full year and have my jersey and gloves in the hall of fame and to set records and everything, it’s been crazy. It’s been phenomenal.’’