April 14, 2024

Doctors believe Justin Jefferson‘s hamstring injury will sideline the Minnesota Vikings star for four to six weeks, and the All-Pro receiver will undergo imaging tests in four weeks to help determine when he can return, sources told ESPN.

The Vikings placed Jefferson on injured reserve last week, requiring the 2022 NFL Offensive Player of the Year to miss at least four weeks.

Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell told reporters last week he did not expect Jefferson to miss the rest of the season, but Minnesota needs to help itself in the standings to ensure he will return.

The Vikings (1-4) visit the Chicago Bears (1-4) on Sunday before the following six-game stretch leading into their Week 13 bye: home vs. San Francisco, at Green Bay, at Atlanta, home vs. New Orleans, at Denver and a home rematch with Chicago.

If the Vikings are unable to remain competitive, Jefferson would be expected to consider the reality that he and the organization did not come to an agreement on a long-term contract extension before this season. The deal likely would have made Jefferson the highest-paid non-quarterback offensive player in NFL history, and his price is not expected to drop.

As competitive as Jefferson is and as much as he would like to be there for his team, he will have to ask himself whether a return this season is worth the risk of long-term injury if the Vikings have fallen out of the playoff race.

For now, Minnesota is hoping Jefferson can recover as quickly as possible and that the two-time Pro Bowler does not have a more serious injury to the hamstring.

“With hamstrings, I don’t want to speculate on exactly when it will be,” O’Connell said last week. “But I know he feels pretty good considering where some guys feel at this point in the process, having been [injured] just this past Sunday.

“It’s just going to be about all that entails to go through the process to where he can have some time to start feeling like he can be at full speed again, as explosive as he is, and that will be a process he’ll work through, and hopefully we can get that window opened and we’ll see where he’s at.”

Wide receivers N’Keal Harry and Trishton Jackson were elevated from Minnesota’s practice squad and will provide depth Sunday behind expected starters K.J. Osborn and rookie Jordan Addison.

Jefferson, 24, had 36 receptions for 571 yards and three touchdowns in Minnesota’s first five games this season. He is third in the league in receiving yards and fourth in targets (53).

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