May 20, 2024

EAGAN, Minn. — While awaiting final tests on receiver Justin Jefferson‘s strained right hamstring, Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell made one thing clear Monday afternoon: The team will not put him back on the field until he is fully recovered.

“He’s down today,” O’Connell said of Jefferson. “He’s obviously one of the most ultra-competitors I’ve ever met. He was trying to go back in the game as it was yesterday. We’re going to have to medically make a good decision and help almost protect him from himself a little bit in a way where we’ve got to take care of him and get him back to 100%.”

Jefferson suffered the injury when he slipped while making a cut during a route with 12:49 remaining Sunday in the Vikings’ 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He was out for the Vikings’ final 21 snaps, a rarity for a player who has never missed an NFL game and has played 92% of the team’s offensive snaps since entering the starting lineup in Week 3 of the 2020 season.

The Vikings play at the Chicago Bears this Sunday, and while O’Connell did not rule Jefferson out, he spoke Monday about the big picture of the team’s season and his star wide receiver’s career.

“We’re going to do what’s best for Justin and make sure we give him the treatment and plan that is a big-picture positive for him,” O’Connell said.

If Jefferson does miss time, the Vikings’ three-receiver personnel groupings will likely comprise of K.J. Osborn, Jordan Addison and punt returner Brandon Powell. Tight end T.J. Hockenson has been the Vikings’ second-most targeted pass catcher (39) after Jefferson (53).

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