Teammate Explains What It's Like Playing Against Justin Jefferson in Practice

August 15, 2023

Athlete Studio

The Minnesota Vikings' social media team has the responsibility to showcase the incredible catches made by Justin Jefferson during training camp. 

As a second-year cornerback, Evans has been training with the first team since OTAs, preparing for his chance to become an NFL starter. To sharpen his skills, he goes head-to-head with the best wide receiver in the universe, Justin Jefferson, day after day. While fans only see the times Evans is defeated, these one-on-one matchups serve as a valuable learning experience for him. Evans is set to face a challenging lineup of receivers this season, including Mike Evans, AJ Brown, Deebo Samuel, Chris Olave, Davante Adams, and Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Defensive coordinator Brian Flores believes that competing against Jefferson on a daily basis is the ultimate test for Evans. Flores says, "Speed, quickness, route-running, high-pointing the ball, releases - you're not going to find a better opponent. This should push all of our defensive backs to their limits."

So, what is it like to face Justin Jefferson? How does it make Evans a better player? In an exclusive interview with Purple Insider, Evans shares that it all begins at the line of scrimmage.

Evans explains, "He's incredibly quick and fast, so he can leave you in the dust right off the line of scrimmage."

According to Evans, there is a strategic chess match between the cornerback and the receiver at the start of each play. The cornerback must determine whether to play tight or loose press coverage, anticipate the receiver's release, and decide how to physically engage with him.

"Mixing it up, showing him different looks, and keeping him guessing," Evans reveals. "If you become predictable, he'll figure you out, just like any phenomenal receiver."

Evans continues, "You always have to have a counter move. There are various techniques for a defensive back to keep the receiver off balance. It's about constantly refining your skills, especially during the offseason, and adding new tools to your arsenal."

However, changing strategies isn't always enough. Evans acknowledges that Jefferson's ability to maintain his speed while dipping his shoulders low to the ground is incredibly challenging. Even with his length, the cornerback can barely lay a hand on Jefferson. Nevertheless, Evans has adapted and is ready to face this obstacle head-on.

In conclusion, going up against Justin Jefferson on a daily basis has elevated Akayleb Evans' game. The young cornerback has learned valuable lessons about versatility, strategy, and adjusting to the unique skills of an elite receiver. As Evans prepares for the upcoming season, he is equipped with the knowledge and experience that only battling against the best can provide.

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