One of the most productive rookie receivers in NFL history just became one of the few players in league annals to actually reveal his preseason goals when asked to do so by a reporter.
Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson, a first-round draft pick, didn't even hesitate.
"I think I set the goals at 1,000 yards, six touchdowns and I want to say 60 catches," he said Wednesday. "Yeah. That was the goals."
Individual mission accomplished — and then some, with 79 catches for 1,267 yards and seven touchdowns.
The 22nd overall pick needs 47 yards to overtake Randy Moss – the 21st overall pick in 1998 – as the franchise record-holder for most yards as a rookie. Jefferson already broke Moss' mark for catches but will fall short of the SuperFreak's NFL rookie-record 17 touchdown catches, not to mention his team's 15-1 record.
"To actually reach my goals and reach beyond my goals, I mean that's something special," Jefferson said. "I just got to keep going and keep building on my game and get better and better each season."
Jefferson also has former NFL receiver Anquan Boldin in his sights as he heads to Detroit for Sunday's regular season finale. With 111 yards receiving, Jefferson would surpass Boldin's 2003 total of 1,377, the most by a rookie in the Super Bowl era.
Boldin had 101 catches and eight touchdowns that year for the Arizona Cardinals.
Asked how he picked specific numbers of 60 for 1,000 and six touchdowns, Jefferson said, "It's just like a goal I wanted to reach. It's not really looking at the things I have. I mean I have Kirk [Cousins], I have Adam [Thielen] and Dalvin [Cook] and a great O-line. So I knew I was going to be able to get the ball a couple times. So just putting that goal out there to be set. Thankfully, I reached those goals."
Cousins said it's up to the coaching staff to put Jefferson in position to break those records.
"I know in the past when we've had teammates chasing records or an achievement, coaches will call plays and design the game plan to make sure they get featured," Cousins said. "Nothing has been brought up at all [to me]. As a quarterback you just play the game and you go where your reads take you. That's what coaches have told me in the past. 'Hey, we are going to try to do this or that, but you just play the game. It's our job as coaches to see if someone can get the football or get more opportunities.' So, I can really just turn my brain off and go play."
Cousins dips below .500
With the three-game losing streak, Cousins' career record has dipped below .500 at 50-51-2. It comes as he has posted a career-high 32 touchdown passes and a 103.1 passer rating that would rank second in his career.
"You just keep working," Cousins said. "You trust that if you stay at it, keep playing the way you play and try to play at a high level that the wins will come.
"I do look at it and see there was an improvement after the bye week in turnovers. Maybe if you had not had those turnovers earlier in the year, you don't start 1-5."
Cousins had 10 interceptions among 11 turnovers before the bye in Week 7 and has had seven turnovers, including three interceptions, since.
Bailey among seven not practicing
Wednesday's injury report listed kicker Dan Bailey with a back issue that kept him from practicing. Six other players didn't practice: Jalyn Holmes (groin), Eric Kendricks (calf), Ifeadi Odenigbo (chest), Cameron Dantzler (hamstring), Chris Jones (groin) and Cook, who is back home in Florida and will not play Sunday because of the death of his father.
Limited in practice were four players who didn't play last week against the Saints: Todd Davis (ribs), Troy Dye (concussion/hamstring), Alexander Mattison (concussion) and C.J. Ham (quadriceps).
Bailey has missed eight kicks in the last five games. If he's unable to play, the Vikings presumably would promote Taylor Bertolet, who was signed to the practice squad Dec. 19.
Bertolet signed with the Rams as an undrafted rookie in 2016. He's also had two stints with the Broncos and has spent time with the Jets and Panthers. He hasn't kicked in a regular season game.
Reporter to Zimmer: "Does management take any more responsibility for this being the worst defense you said you've had?"
Zimmer: "I don't know. You'd have to ask them that. We've been decimated by injuries this year. The guys we lost from a year ago. So you'd have to ask them that. How they feel."