There's no denying the rivalry between the Packers and Vikings.
But there's also no denying the respect between players on both sides of the Border Battle. Packers star receiver Davante Adams was asked this week about Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson, and Adams spoke highly of the second-year player.
NFL.com's Nick Shook wrote:
Green Bay's Davante Adams carries with him a weighty reputation for devastating defenses with his premier route-running, his body control and most importantly, his hands. He and Aaron Rodgers go together like beer and cheese curds.
Yet, when Adams sees Justin Jefferson making plays for Minnesota, the Packers star sees a legitimate threat to surpass him in purple and white.
Shook quoted Adams, who spoke to Green Bay media members this week:
"I see a six-year vet when I watch him play," Adams said of Jefferson. "He reminds me of, I don't even know how to [explain it] – I haven't seen anybody come in in a while and play like the way that he's playing right now. He really strikes me as somebody that has it figured out, whatever that means. 'Cause I wasn't playing that fast in my first and second year.
"Last year, he already looked like he'd been playing for four years at that point, so he's kind of aging like a dog right now, and I mean in its purest form because he's a dog out there, and I respect what he's doing, and it's really fun to watch," Adams continued. "I truly hope that it doesn't look like what it's been looking like the last couple weeks against us, but it's definitely fun to watch."
Plenty have been given an opportunity similar to the one presented to Jefferson, and most have failed to live up to expectations. Not Jefferson, who nearly won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2020 after finishing with 88 receptions for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns.
Adams is right: It took him until his fifth professional season to break 1,000 receiving yards. But it was worth the wait for Green Bay, which boasts a premier receiver in Adams.
Minnesota believes it can say the same about Jefferson. Adams seems to agree, as long as Jefferson isn't a premier producer this weekend.
Aaron Rodgers prepping for 'some special wrinkle' from Zimmer
As noted above, there's a lot of respect between the Vikings and Packers organizations, including between Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The two compliment each other nearly every time Green Bay and Minnesota are nearing a matchup, and for good reason – each knows exactly what the other is capable of.
Look back at photos through the years featuring games between the Vikings and Packers.
Packers.com Senior Writer Mike Spofford recapped Rodgers’ comments about Zimmer during a media session earlier this week. Spofford wrote:
After a dozen games for Aaron Rodgers against the Mike Zimmer-coached Vikings, the Packers three-time MVP quarterback doesn't take for granted he's seen everything Minnesota's defense has to offer.
"Every time we play them, they present something new," Rodgers said. "They can throw a number of different things at you, and they always have some special wrinkle."
And common knowledge doesn't necessarily make things easier on either team, Spofford noted.
Rodgers is as familiar with Zimmer's defense as any quarterback in the league, but both he and [Packers] Head Coach Matt LaFleur said the Vikings can continue making tweaks and adjustments because they have a core of defenders who have played together for a long time.
Safety Harrison Smith (drafted in 2012) and linebackers Eric Kendricks ('15) and Anthony Barr ('14) form the heart of the unit in the middle of the field, while defensive end Everson Griffen ('10) is still rushing off the edge.
According to Spofford, LaFleur considers Smith, who recently was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the "toughest defender to read."
"[Smith's] ability to disguise – shoot, there's sometimes he's on the line of scrimmage, then he's going to play a post, middle-third on the snap of the ball," LaFleur said. "They just communicate well together [as a defense].
"They do a great job keeping the ball in front of them," LaFleur added. "It's hard to get explosive plays."