Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Keenan McCardell: Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson like me and Jimmy Smith

Vikings rookie WR Justin Jefferson talks about his biggest lesson from his rookie season, what it was like playing with no fans and keys to facing the Buccaneers' defense.

The Vikings hired longtime NFL wide receiver Keenan McCardell to coach their wide receivers and he feels a special connection to the top two players in the team’s position group.

First-round pick Justin Jefferson had a spectacular rookie season and Adam Thielen caught 14 touchdown passes to set a career high in his seventh season with the team. McCardell said he sees shades of his fruitful partnership with Jimmy Smith on the Jaguars in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“I had this conversation with Adam today,” McCardell said, via Dane Mizutani of the Pioneer Press. “I was just like, ‘You guys are similar to myself and Jimmy Smith. You guys push each other and have fun playing with each other.’ I want them to continue that because I’ve been a part of that. I understand that. It’s a friendly competition to make each other better.”

McCardell said he views Jefferson as a “blank canvas” and he wants help develop the artist who will fill that in over the coming years. He wants Thielen to “keep reinventing himself” as he moves into the later stages of his career and hitting on both fronts should make for an effective passing offense in Minnesota.