Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson entered the 2023 campaign hoping to become the first player ever to top 2,000 receiving yards in a season before a hamstring injury sidelined him for seven games.
Ahead of his long-awaited Week 14 return, Jefferson – who racked up 571 yards in his first five appearances – has a new target.
“Since I got hurt, the new goal is 1,000 yards,” Jefferson said Thursday, according to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. “I want to end every single year over 1,000 yards.”
Jefferson put on a show before sustaining the injury, averaging 114.2 receiving yards per game. He led the NFL with 128 receptions and 1,809 yards (106.4 per contest) in 2022 en route to being named Offensive Player of the Year.
Tyreek Hill tops the league with 1,481 yards and 12 touchdown receptions. The Miami Dolphins pass-catcher is on pace to break Calvin Johnson’s single-season record of 1,964 yards and become the first wideout ever to reach the 2,000-yard mark.
“It’s been hard to adjust those goals, honestly,” Jefferson said. “To have missed seven games throughout the season, especially on the pace that I was going before the injury, it’s a little tough to see Tyreek going crazy every single week, to see different people throughout the whole league doing tremendous things. It’s been tough because it’s the first season that I’ve been hurt since I’ve been into the league.”
The wideout added that Minnesota’s goal is to reach the Super Bowl, according to NFL.com’s Nick Shook.
Jefferson is also focused on improving his chemistry with quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who joined the team in a trade after Kirk Cousins went down with a season-ending injury.
“On the field and in the film room, (I’m) just going over different plays with him, going over the timing of everything just like we did with Kirk, and trying to find that connection that we can use for Sunday,” Jefferson said. “It’s been a pleasure working with (Dobbs), learning things that I can learn from him, that he can learn from me, and it’ll be better for us when we go out on that field.”
The 6-6 Vikings, who visit the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, are the No. 6 seed in the NFC. Minnesota has a 44% chance of making the playoffs, according to The New York Times.