Van Jefferson learned from rookie mistakes and is ‘a lot more comfortable’ in Rams offense now

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Van Jefferson generated a ton of buzz during training camp last year as a rookie. The second-round pick appeared to be on track to unseat Josh Reynolds as the No. 3 receiver, but that leap never happened.

Instead, he was the fourth option at wideout, seeing just 31 passes thrown his way in the 16 games he played. He caught 19 of those targets for 220 yards with one touchdown before adding another six catches for 46 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs.

Jefferson may not have lived up to the hype as a rookie, but he could be poised to make a much bigger impact in Year 2 now that he has a full season in the NFL under his belt. Jefferson told reporters Wednesday that he’s much more comfortable in the Rams offense now than he was last year, having studied the playbook more and developed his craft as a receiver.

“I would say I’m more comfortable now. If I had to be honest, last year I was a rookie coming in and my head spinning and stuff like that, but I think I’m more comfortable now,” he said. “Last year was a lot of learning steps that I needed to learn, a lot of things I needed to know about the offense. But this offseason, me just honing in on the playbook, I’m a lot more comfortable. Like I said, rookie year, it was just a lot of things thrown at me but I handled it well, but I think this year, I’m really better at it and more comfortable in the offense.”

What hurt Jefferson and every other rookie in the NFL last season was the absence of a spring workout program. There were no OTAs, no minicamp and no real on-boarding process before training camp in July due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, Jefferson has had a full offseason to work through, which he sees as a major help in his development.

“I think it’s very beneficial,” he said of having a normal offseason this year. “I think last year with the Zoom – the Zoom helped – but I think for me, I would rather do it. That’s the kind of learner I am. So I think now being here is kind of beneficial, being on the field and actually going through the plays and stuff like that. I think it’s helping me out more. I’m glad that the rookies get to experience this, as well. They can come in and learn things a lot quicker and do it themselves, so I think it’s very beneficial.”

Considering Jefferson’s dad, Shawn Jefferson, also played in the NFL and was the Jets’ wide receivers coach last year, Van Jefferson knew a little bit of what to expect in the pros. However, there was still a lot for him to learn, which he realized upon finally making it to the NFL.

He admitted he had some rookie growing pains but those will actually help him learn and become a better receiver.

“I knew it was going to be challenging. From the background that I come from with my dad and everything, he kind of told me things that would be happening, so I kind of knew coming in what to expect but I think you really don’t know until you come experience it for yourself,” he siad. “I think I had some rookie ups and downs and I learned from those things and they were beneficial toward me because I feel like life is about learning and learning from your mistakes and those mistakes helped me out a lot and I can learn from those this year.”

Jefferson will be competing with DeSean Jackson and Tutu Atwell for snaps at wide receiver, both of whom were brought in by the Rams this offseason. Jefferson is taking their arrivals in stride and is going to handle his business as he attempts to carve out a bigger role in his second season.