Justin Jefferson left practice with a shoulder injury today, creating doubt whether he’ll be fully healthy at the start of the season.

Reports tweeted by the NFL insiders (Adam Schefter, Ian Rapoport) indicate it’s a AC sprain rather than a broken clavicle. That’s good, with expectations being that Jefferson likely will be fine for the team’s opener.

But it’s early, and that could be a preliminary estimate (that’s an off-the-record opinion by an agent or team source). Until they test the shoulder more thoroughly, there’s some potential there’s something more serious about the injury. The team has not yet officially weighed in on the timeline for Jefferson’s return.

With teams being cautious about putting players at risk anyway, unlikely that we see Jefferson in the preseason. And this injury will further reduce the number of practice reps Jefferson will get with Kirk Cousins prior to opening day. (Cousins, of course, missed almost a week of practice because of COVID contact-tracing protocals – he’s one of the league’s unvaccinated players).

The shoulder injury can be seen on YouTube.

Jefferson was a baller as a rookie, catching 88 passes for 1,400 yards and 7 TDs – that despite not starting the first two weeks. Only five wide receivers finished with better PPR numbers last year.

But this injury serves as a reminder that the hit rate on rookie receivers coming off big seasons isn’t great. That is, just because you put up big stats in your first year, that’s not a guarantee that you’ll continue to shred it in Year 2.

In the last 20 years, 14 wide receivers have put up top-20 PPR numbers as rookie. Only six of those players came back in their second season and ranked even higher. Six of those 14 didn’t even rank in the top 35. Half of those receivers dropped at least 10 spots in the PPR ranking.

The six who were even better, I’ve got them tagged with black dots.

YearPlayerRookieNext YrPPRRk
2003Anquan Boldin, Ariz.101-1377-856-623-1124.652
2004Michael Clayton, T.B.80-1193-732-372-069.489
2006•Marques Colston, N.O.70-1038-898-1202-11284.28
2008Eddie Royal, Den.91-980-537-345-283.681
2010Mike Williams, T.B.65-964-1165-771-3160.436
2011•A.J. Green, Cin.65-1057-797-1350-11301.84
2013Keenan Allen, S.D.71-1046-877-783-4179.336
2014•Odell Beckham, NYG91-1305-1296-1450-13319.35
2014Mike Evans, T.B.68-1051-1274-1206-3212.622
2014Kelvin Benjamin, Car.73-1008-9DNP (knee)----
2016•Tyreek Hill, K.C.61-593-1275-1183-8247.28
2016•Michael Thomas, N.O.92-1137-9104-1245-5258.56
2017•JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pitt.58-917-8111-1426-7298.98
2018Calvin Ridley, Atl.64-821-1063-866-7197.027
2020Justin Jefferson, Min.88-1400-7?-?-???

—Ian Allan