Justin Jefferson is either a polite rookie and a very good actor or maybe he really is the unselfish, team-oriented receiver Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has praised him for being.
On a conference call with reporters Wednesday, the first-round draft pick was asked how he likes blocking downfield for a running back. Then he was asked how it feels to be a star-receiver-in-the-making who’s stuck in a run-first offense that coordinator Gary Kubiak said “goes as Dalvin goes.”
“To be honest, it helps,” Jefferson said. “We have a strong, strong running back that can create some big plays. Nothing is wrong with that. That helps our passing game. We do a lot of play-action that we can hit downfield, and we have some other quick throws as well.
“Being run-first is not a problem, everyone gets their share of touches.”
Unlike his predecessor, Stefon Diggs, Jefferson actually sounded like he believed what he had just said.
As for that downfield blocking, Jefferson got plenty of practice at it on a windy Sunday afternoon in Lambeau Field. Dalvin Cook ran the ball 30 times for 163 yards and three of his four touchdowns.
Jefferson said he’s always been cool with blocking downfield.
“It started off with coach Joe Brady at LSU,” said Jefferson, referring to LSU’s former passing game coordinator and current Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator.
“We always talked about downfield blocking and having those touchdown blocks for the running backs. We always said that they block for us, so why not block for them?”
Cornerbacks Cameron Dantzler (concussion), Mark Fields (chest) and Holton Hill (foot) were listed on Wednesday’s injury report as not practicing. Another cornerback, Kris Boyd, was back on the field and not listed on the injury report after leaving Sunday’s game at Green Bay because of a leg injury.
Listed as limited on Wednesday were cornerback Harrison Hand (hamstring) and special teamer Dan Chisena (hip). Listed on the injury report with full participation with shoulder injuries were fullback C.J. Ham and receiver Adam Thielen.
Dantzler was injured in a scary scene Sunday when his helmet collided with safety Anthony Harris’ thigh on the final play of the first quarter against the Packers. He was carted off the field and evaluated at a nearby hospital. On Monday, Zimmer said Dantzler had a chance to play this Sunday against Detroit.
Fields suffered a punctured lung against the Packers and isn’t expected to play Sunday.
Shrugs off trade talk
In what qualifies as news in today’s world of sports rumors, Harrison Smith was not traded Tuesday.
The hoopla of the trade deadline came and went without the Vikings making another move in addition to their bye-week trade of Yannick Ngakoue to the Ravens.
“You always hear rumors and stuff on social media, all the time,” Smith said of speculation that he might be traded as the Vikings turned their attention to 2021. “It’s part of the business. Not really much extra thought. I’ve got games to get ready for and that’s really all I can control, so that’s all I care about.”
Zimmer wasn’t expecting General Manager Rick Spielman to make more trades on Tuesday.
“We like our guys,” Zimmer said. “We’ve got a bunch of good guys on this team. We just need to continue to get better, play better. I don’t think there was much movement at all at the trade deadline.”
Smith said he thinks this 2-5 team can make a run now that it won at Lambeau Field.
“Building on that is important,” he said. “We can’t get all giddy and happy about one win.”