"Humble over Hype" isn't a phrase one would expect to see on a T-shirt being worn by an NFL receiver.
Typically, they tend to lack the former and really love the latter.
But into the TCO Performance Center's media room walked that T-shirt on Justin Jefferson, the Vikings' second-year star wideout, who last year made the Pro Bowl and set the NFL rookie record for receiving yards in a season (1,400).
"You always gotta be humble," said Jefferson, who heads into Sunday night's home game against Dallas ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in targets (59), catches (41) and receiving yards (542). "The hype gets to a lot of people. Just being humble, trusting in the process, trusting God and letting Him do his work."
A year ago, after not starting until Week 3, Jefferson had 36 targets, 28 catches, 537 yards and three touchdowns through six games. He had three 100-yard games, reaching 175 and 166 in two of his first four starts.
Through six games this year, Jefferson has two 100-yard games, none higher than 124, and his average per catch is down to 13.2 from 19.2. He does have as many touchdowns and is riding a streak of nine games with at least five catches, third longest in the NFL behind the Rams' Cooper Kupp and the Panthers' D.J. Moore.
"Year 2, they focus on you a little bit more, you have more film out there," Jefferson said. "There's a lot more things to look at on you, so you gotta learn a couple new moves. Teams play you a little differently, play with some safety help or some different type of coverages."
Jefferson's rookie record might not stand for long. Bengals receiver Ja'Marr Chase, a former LSU teammate, is threatening it. Jefferson said he talks to Chase every week.
"He's doing a great job," Jefferson said. "He's killing it, especially having Joe [Burrow], his college quarterback."
Chase has 754 yards, the most by a rookie through seven games in NFL history.
"I'm proud of him, and of Joe," Jefferson said. "I hope he does break it."
Another big difference for Jefferson this year is the Vikings' record through six games. A year ago, they were 1-5 after losing to Atlanta the week the Falcons fired coach Dan Quinn. This year, they're 3-3 after K.J. Osborn scored in overtime at Carolina on a pass play originally designed to go to Jefferson, who was covered closely because, well, he's Justin Jefferson.
2021 statistics: Justin Jefferson game-by-game
"I'm excited that K.J. got the ball!" said Jefferson, marching in step with that self-advertised humility. "I'm excited we won. That's all that matters. I was a little frustrated before, you know, fumbling the ball. Didn't feel like the first half was going in my favor, but I thought that was on me.
"Just bouncing back and still getting 80 yards that game, having eight catches, I still felt that it was a decent game and plus we had a victory, too."
Speaking of that fumble, it was second of Jefferson's 22-game career and the first one he's lost. It also was the Vikings' third lost fumble of the season, triggering coach Mike Zimmer to order extra ball-security drills in practice this week. The Cowboys are tied for third in takeaways with 14, three of them fumble recoveries.
"Been doing some stumble-and-bump, meaning when you go down to the ground, have a defender punch at it," Jefferson said. "And that's what happened to me in the game, so working on that a little bit more. Trying to practice on that. [Dallas] likes to do a lot of punches, so we gotta make sure we secure the ball and have no turnovers."