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Why Justin Jefferson is Motivated by Cooper Kupp 'Unbelievable' Rams Season

Kupp led the league in receiving yards while Jefferson finished in second place

If not for Cooper Kupp's historic regular season with the Los Angeles Rams last year, Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson could've been just the second 22-year-old to lead the league in receiving yards. 

But now with former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell as his head coach, Jefferson is looking to build off his 1,616-yard season by using Kupp's dominance under O'Connell in 2021 as motivation. 

Kupp fell just 18 yards short of breaking the legendary Calvin Johnson's record of 1,964 single-season receiving yards in 2012. Now, the always-confident Jefferson feels he can reach similar heights. 

“Just seeing what Cooper Kupp did last year, that gives me so much hope, gives me so much excitement to see what I can do in the same position that he was,” Jefferson said on The Ringer’s NFL podcast. “Him being so close to reaching the record, him getting that triple crown, all those things that he accomplished are up in the air for me right now, so we just gotta buy into the system, learn the plays and we all have confidence that KO is going to distribute the ball to different people throughout the offense.”

Kupp and Jefferson went blow for blow in Week 16 as both the Rams and Vikings were fighting for a playoff spot. Kupp's 10 catches topped Jefferson's eight grabs, but the latter finished with seven more receiving yards at 116. 

Still, it was LA who came out victorious and clinched a playoff berth with the win. Jefferson and the Vikings fell short of the postseason, but the rising star wasn't short on praises for his receiving counterpart.

“He’s creative. He’s able to create space and get the ball,” Jefferson said. “Just his whole year last year was just unbelievable, him putting up so many numbers and pretty much getting 10-plus catches a game and being wide-open. He had a fantastic season. Nobody can take that away from him. And topping the season off with winning the Super Bowl, so he definitely had an unbelievable season. He’s definitely ranked his name up even higher than it was before. He killed it.”

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Jefferson's length and agility makes him one of the league's most versatile receivers, as he has shown the ability to play from the slot, out on the numbers, and in one-on-one scenarios that require him to win contested battles for the ball. 

The Vikings even lined up Jefferson in the backfield at times last year. He had just six carries for 14 yards, mostly being used as a red herring to distract defenses. But he feels this ability to be versatile allows him to do "more" than Kupp. 

“Pretty much where Cooper Kupp was at, that’s pretty much where I’m at,” he said. “But my ability to move in different positions is gonna be more. I’m able to go outside. You don’t really see Cooper Kupp lining up outside as many times as I would. Or me lining up in the backfield or lining up at different positions to get the ball.”

The Rams and Vikings won't be battling it out on the field in the regular season in 2022, but the league will certainly have its eye on the two receivers that dominated the stat sheet all of last season. 


You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7

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