Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Vikings’ Justin Jefferson Shades Eagles, Darius Slay Sounds Off

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The matchup within the matchup, that between Justin Jefferson and Darius Slay, has all the makings of a heavyweight fight under the lights of Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles passed Jefferson in the draft and now the All-Pro receiver is ready to make them pay.

Jefferson — the 22nd overall pick of 2020, finishing one place behind Jalen Reagor — had 9 receptions for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns in Week 1. He’s arguably the biggest pass-catching threat in the entire NFL with a bank-breaking contract extension in the works. The 23-year-old could easily have penned in Philly, but it wasn’t to be. And Jefferson is “much happier” that it all worked out the way it did.

“Every mock draft made me go to Philly” Jefferson to reporters. “So when Philly was on the board, got the call, and it was Minnesota, it was definitely a shock. But I’m definitely happy, much happier to be here than there. Like I said, I’m looking forward to it [playing the Eagles]. I can barely wait for it.”

Nick Sirianni was not on the team when the Eagles selected Reagor over Jefferson. He had no intention of entering into this debate. However, the Eagles head coach shared his thoughts on the Minnesota Vikings’ talented receiver. Sirianni watched a lot of college footage about Jefferson when he was the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts.

“I remember putting the tape on and saying, man, this Justin Jefferson guy is really, really good,” Sirianni said. “Like he’s really fast. He has great hands. He runs really good distances. I’ve always admired and respected his game. It poses many problems.”

The Eagles are hoping Darius Slay can serve as Jefferson’s kryptonite when the two teams meet Monday night. Slay, a four-time Pro Bowl cornerback, prides himself on covering an opponent’s top receiver and shadowing them in the formation. He will be ready for one of the biggest challenges on the schedule.

“I’m always ready to compete. I don’t back down from a challenge,” Slay told The Pivot Podcast. “We’re taking action, it’s going to happen.”

Slay has studied Jefferson’s band, looking for a slight advantage or perceived weakness. He doesn’t have many. In fact, Slay Jefferson named the second best player in his position, behind only Davante Adams.

“He’s insanely good. It’s going to be a tough nut to crack [matchup]. Like I said, I think he’s probably a top 2 receiver in the league behind Te [Davante Adams]. It’s Te and he. One, two, very simple. What Jefferson is doing is crazy. I’m talking route running, after the catch, finding the end zone, deep ball, intermediate routes, he does it all.

“He’s the guy you want as the #1 receiver on your team. Certainly. He does everything. And he does it at a high level and he does it with a lot of swag and a lot of confidence. A lot of guys don’t have that. Shoot, he can take your confidence away by griddying [Griddy Dance] through the end zone.”

The Eagles listed eight players Injury report from Saturday, but all were full training participants. Left guard Landon Dickerson has contracted an illness and tight end Jack Stoll is dealing with an ankle problem. The team gave several veterans – Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Isaac Seumalo, Josh Sweat – routine rest days. Philadelphia appears to be going into week two 100% healthy.

Meanwhile, the Vikings reigned rookie cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. out with a quad injury. Rookie Akayleb Evans will be the third turn for Minnesota behind starters Patrick Peterson and Cameron Dantzler.

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