EAGAN, Minn. – There's been plenty of talk this week about familiarity between coaching staffs for Minnesota and Cleveland, but those aren't the only connections that will show up in Sunday's game.
Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson is plenty familiar with a pair of Cleveland's receivers. Odell Beckham, Jr., who returned to action last week after rehabbing a torn ACL last season, shares an alma mater with Jefferson. Jarvis Landry, who currently is on Injured Reserve, also is an alum of LSU.
Beckham and Landry are six years older than Jefferson, but the younger wideout spent time with both wideouts, who were friends and teammates at LSU with Jefferson's older brothers Rickey and Jordan.
"I was always watching him during games and practices, whenever, so I definitely was a big fan of him growing up," Jefferson said of Beckham.
"I look at his tendencies like what type of movements he likes to do, what different moves that he does differently than me and what ways I can mix my little taste to his," Jefferson added.
View photos of Vikings players from practice on Sept. 30 at the TCO Performance Center.
The two entered the NFL at different times, but Jefferson and Beckham posted similar rookie numbers. In 2014, Beckham recorded 91 catches for 1,305 yards (in 12 games for the Giants), compared to Jefferson's 88 catches for 1,400 yards over the course of 2020. Beckham did find the end zone more often, totaling 12 touchdowns in his first season compared to Jefferson's seven.
Both — Beckham already proved, and Jefferson is in the process — showed they were more than one-hit wonders.
Beckham has the record with 1,959 receiving yards through an NFL player's first 20 games. Jefferson, who set a franchise record for the fastest player to record 100 career receptions, will suit up for his 20th game Sunday. His 1,654 yards so far rank second all-time through a player's first 20 games.
Jefferson needs five yards to move past Percy Harvin for the second-most career receiving yards by a Viking before turning age 23. Randy Moss holds that high mark with 2,726.
Landry also made his presence felt as a rookie in Miami in 2014, recording 84 catches for 758 yards and five touchdowns.
Jefferson noted that he hasn't trained with Beckham – although the two "are like brothers" – but did spend time working out with Landry this past spring and summer.
"That was a great experience for me. My first offseason in the league, and I got to train with him," Jefferson said. "He was also a big player that I liked to watch growing up, so to finally be able to work out with him and see how he is on the field … to see that and get some tips from him was cool."
He won't be going up directly against Beckham of course, but Jefferson will also recognize a pair of former LSU teammates in Cleveland's secondary.
The Browns drafted cornerback Greedy Williams (46th overall) and safety Grant Delpit (44th overall) in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
Jefferson said other Vikings receivers have picked his brain a bit as far as what type of players the two DBs are and what type of leverage they typically play.
"So when it comes to that," Jefferson explained, "it is easy to tell the different tendencies that they have, just because I went to school with them, practiced with them every single day.
"It's definitely gonna be fun going up against them again, and me and Grant went at it every single day, especially that last year at LSU," Jefferson added. "That's gonna be a good little competition that we have together."