THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Even the son of a former NFL wide receiver and current NFL wide receivers coach needs time to get adjusted to the next level.
Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson had that benefit growing up – his father, Shawn, played in the league for 13 years and is the Cardinals' wide receivers coach (his 16th overall coaching in the league) – in addition to 45 career games, 175 receptions and 2,159 receiving yards in college before he arrived in Los Angeles. But an offense as complex as Rams head coach Sean McVay's can be an adjustment for any rookie receiver, no matter how polished they are coming out of school.
"If I had to be honest, last year, I was a rookie coming in, I was kind of in my head spinning," Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson said during a video conference Wednesday. "But I think I'm more comfortable. Last year was a lot of learning steps, a lot of things I needed to learn about the offense."
Honing in on the playbook this offseason, Jefferson said he's much more comfortable in the offense heading into his second season.
That growing confidence has manifested itself through his performance during spring practices, including hauling in a couple passes from quarterback Matthew Stafford in 7-on-7 drills during organized team activities sessions open to the media.
"I think (he) does a great job of doubling people up," Stafford said during a video conference Wednesday. "He's a really good separator. Plays big as well. Has enough long speed to get down the field, and has a nice size mismatch on a lot of corners as well."
McVay noticed a difference when the team convened for its offseason program.
"You can see he's really put in the work," McVay said during a June 4 video conference. "He's come back, establishing himself as a legitimate dude, a guy we're counting on for big things."
Having a solid pair of veterans to learn from in wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp helps adds to an already strong work ethic. Even if there was a lot of information to process, Jefferson said his favorite thing about his rookie year was the experience, as well as learning a lot and learning from his teammates.
In that vein, Jefferson's confidence and comfort within the offense has also been helped by the return of minicamp and on-field spring workouts.
"The Zoom (video calls) helped, but for me personally, I'd rather do it," he said. "That's the kind of learner I am."
With all those good habits in place, McVay is counting on Jefferson finishing the offseason program strong, then picking up where he left off at the end of minicamp at the start of training camp in late July.
"I've been very, very pleased with Van Jefferson," McVay said. "Very excited about what he's going to do to finish up this offseason, and I know he's going to come back and hit the ground running in training camp. But we're expecting very big things from Van Jefferson. He has been a major bright spot this offseason, and somebody that I'm extremely excited about. And I know I share that feeling with the rest of the coaches."