Justin Jefferson Saga Ends Rather Unceremoniously

explained: what to expect
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After multiple weeks of “Will he or won’t he? regarding Justin Jefferson’s availability, will he won out after the Minnesota Vikings bye.

With little fanfare, Jefferson was effectively wiped from the injury report on Wednesday, and all systems go for Week 14 at the Las Vegas Raiders.

Justin Jefferson Saga Ends Rather Unceremoniously

Jefferson was injured on October 8th at U.S. Bank Stadium versus the Kansas City Chiefs, pulling a hamstring that sidelined him for seven games. At the time, losing the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year felt like a death sentence for a 1-4 squad, but the 24-year-old will return to a Vikings team this Sunday with a 6-6 record that owns the NFC’s No. 6 playoff seed, at least for now.

A New Wrinkle
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Indeed, Minnesota fired off a 5-2 record without Jefferson, including an out-of-nowhere five-game winning streak the moment Jefferson hit injured reserve. In fact, when Jefferson was set on the shelf, some Vikings fans wondered if his return in 2023 was even worth it. The 1-4 record invited fringe theorists to call for a “tank” job by Minnesota or a total fire sale at the NFL’s trade deadline.

Neither scenario happened.

Return from IR Gets
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Meanwhile, head coach Kevin O’Connell announced Joshua Dobbs as the starting quarterback for a fourth consecutive game, so this weekend, the journeyman passer will throw to Jefferson for the first time in his career. “Obviously JJ being out there, he’s an efficient and dynamic playmaker,” Dobbs told reporters Wednesday, four days before Raiders-Vikings.

Justin Jefferson Is about
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Without Jefferson in the lineup, tight end T.J. Hockenson stepped up tremendously, and before Kirk Cousins was lost for the season — yes, he was injured, too — rookie Jordan Addison was the default WR1. But with Dobbs at quarterback, Addison has not found the endzone.

Dobbs continued, “That changes having him (Jefferson) in the lineup, but for me, I still go through my same process and trust the plans and trust the game that when the opportunities are there for him to get the ball, he’ll get it and go out and make a play.”

Jefferson Saga Ends
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Jefferson was eligible to hop off IR against the New Orleans Saints in early November, but Minnesota slow-rolled his recovery, insisting it wanted to “ramp him up” before greenlighting his return.

Now, with a playoff berth in the balance, Jefferson is cleared for full participation and might have to put the club on his back the rest of the way.

The Raiders passing defense ranks 19th per DVOA after 13 weeks.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.