THOUSAND OAKS (News4usonline) – Van Jefferson believes that each person in life has an arrival moment. The second-year Los Angeles Rams wide receiver believes his moment is now. That moment has come after being steadfast and exercising a little patience, Jefferson said.
“I think that the biggest thing I’ve learned is that your time is your time,” Jefferson said in a September interview at the Rams practice facility. “Some people’s time might be faster than yours…I never question God’s plan and what He has for me. I always stand strong in my faith.”
Jefferson continued, “So I just knew at one point I was going to get an opportunity. But you never know when. So I just remained humble and remained in prayer. Just patience, man, just knowing that what God has for you it’s going to happen. I just feel like you can’t look over where someone else is at. You’ve got to look at where you’re at.”
Jefferson is at is the right place at the right time for the Rams. After going through the NFL learning curve as a rookie last season, Jefferson is coming into his own as one of the Rams starting wide receivers. There’s proof in the pudding.
Through eight games this season, Jefferson has already surpassed the number of catches and total yards received in the 16 games he played in 2020. In the Rams’ 38-22 road win against the Houston Texans, Jefferson hauled in three catches for 88 yards.
On the season, Jefferson is averaging a shade over 16 yards a catch with a total of 24 receptions and 392 yards and three touchdowns. With wily veterans Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods getting the lion’s share of the passes being tossed around by quarterback Matthew Stafford, Jefferson has emerged as the next viable scoring threat for the Rams.
“I think he’s done a great job,” Stafford said. “When he’s had his opportunities, he has made the most of them. There’s even a few more out there that I feel like we can connect on and really make defenses pay. He’s a bigger guy, but he’s really sudden, got really good hands, strong hands, has a great feel for running routes.
“His dad taught him well growing up, you can tell,” Stafford added. “He’s just continuing to progress and that’s what you want. You just want to see a guy with drive and with the right attitude. He just comes in here every single day working his tail off, trying to get better and it’s producing on the field.”
Stafford’s admiration of Jefferson is mutual. Jefferson, who played with Jared Goff last season, said when Stafford arrived on the scene there was an immediate connection with all the pass-catchers, including himself.
“When Matt[hew] came in OTAs…fresh new face coming in, I think he did a great job of bonding with all the receivers,” remarked Jefferson. “We all built chemistry with him. When he came in, he came in like we knew him right off the bat. It’s been great having Matt here. Being with Matt has been great so far. We just got to keep it going.”
Jefferson, who was selected by the Rams in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, was seen in his draft profile as a player who could play all three wide receiver spots, but also as someone who would excel at the slot position. Jefferson feels not only can he stretch the field as a home run hitter, but he can also play the inside/out game as well.
“I think that you got to have a little bit of both,” Jefferson said. “It’s always good to go deep. All receivers love going deep to get that big play, but I feel like you have to have both so the defenses don’t key on it. Like I said, going deep is always fun.”
Last year there wasn’t too much fun for anyone. There was a whole lot going on, from social justice marches and protests to the worldwide pandemic caused by Covid-19. It was a surreal time for everyone. There was caution about an NFL season even happening.
So during his rookie season, Jefferson said he just tried to get up to speed on how and what to do in the NFL.
“I needed that year last year for myself,” Jefferson said. “Just to learn more, just to be mentally and physically ready. I think last year was a good year for me, to sit out and to learn a couple of things, learn from the older guys. It all worked out for me.”
It’s worked out so well that Rams head coach Sean McVay has been impressed with what he has seen from his young wide receiver and his growth from Year 1 to Year 2.
“Just the ownership of what we’re asking him to do,” McVay said. “He’s really worked hard. You can see he’s a really conscientious player but understanding how to work edges on guys versus bump, aggressively attacking the football, and then really just having an ownership of the system, the things that we’re trying to get done, where he fits within the framework of the different concepts.”
McVay continued, “He’s getting better and better. He’s making a lot of plays that should give them a lot of confidence, and then there’s still things that we can continue to just improve on to really be at the upper echelon. But I feel really good about (WR) Van (Jefferson). I think he’s making a lot of really good progress.”
Jefferson has shown growth in his development because of all the hard work he has put in. Getting solid tips on how to be a better wideout from multiple sources, including his father, Shawn Jefferson, hasn’t hurt his NFL growth process.
The elder Jefferson played 13 seasons in the NFL and is now a wide receivers coach with the Arizona Cardinals.
“My dad had a lot of influence on me,” Jefferson said. “Growing up, I can just remember my dad coached me up, even when I didn’t know I wanted to play football. Once I told him I wanted to play football, my dad put all of his focus into that and coached me up when I was young, in middle school, high school.
“He couldn’t make a lot of my games because he was coaching. But every time he came, he would coach me from the sidelines, still getting on me like I was in elementary [school]. That’s my dad. He’s had a big impact on my life. Every time I get some information from him, I take it in and try to listen to it the best that I can.”
Hearing dad’s voice is not the only one Jefferson heard growing up. While his father was his sports mentor, Jefferson said it was his mother, Marla, who lit the fire behind his spiritual walk.
“Mom had us in church every Sunday,” Jefferson said. “She did make us serve. We had to serve, whether that was as an usher..she made us do something in the church. We had to. Mom made sure you were in the church every Sunday, for sure. It was definitely planted in us at an early age.”
Jefferson’s spiritual upbringing has not fallen too far from the tree.
“I’m grateful for everything,” Jefferson said. “Every day, I always pray and wake up and thank God for the little things, like hearing, you know, seeing, the little things that we might take for granted, walking. There are people out in this world who can’t do those things.
“Things not taking anything for granted. It’s a blessing to be here every day. God can humble you real quick, so just being thankful and grateful for all the blessings God put in your life. Praying to God when it’s bad and it’s good. That plays a big part of it. And just like I said just being thankful and grateful for giving me this opportunity.”