What Is Justin Jefferson’s Role after Return?

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When the Minnesota Vikings take the field against the Las Vegas Raiders next week, they will have Justin Jefferson back in action. The NFL’s best wide receiver will make waves against any opponent, but what will his role look like when returning from a hamstring injury?

What Is Justin Jefferson’s Role after Return?

Justin Jefferson hasn’t played for the Vikings since Week 5, when he sustained a hamstring injury against the Kansas City Chiefs. Put on injured reserve and guaranteed to miss at least four weeks, Jefferson will have sat out seven games and eight weeks when he returns to action. An abundance of caution has been put forth in getting him back on the field, but how that translates to his activation remains to be seen.

Role after
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When healthy, it is almost a given that Jefferson is on the field for the vast majority of snaps during a given contest. His presence alone provides a threat the defense must key in on, and being available on the field makes everyone else a bit more open. Coming off a hamstring injury that kept him out of action for so long, it is worth wondering if he will be eased back in.

The hope would be that the extensive time off and a period that has been extended beyond what had been reported throughout the process would leave his hamstring at 100%. With soft tissue injuries, the body can sometimes react negatively when ramping up to full speed, so there is an argument for the superstar having a play count.

No matter who is under center, Jefferson can go a long way to helping the offense click at a higher rate. Neither Jaren Hall nor Josh Dobbs has gotten game action with the talented wideout yet, and developing additional chemistry over the bye week has to be made a focal point.

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For most of the time Jefferson has been absent, talented rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison has stepped up. He has disappeared for moments but has also shown a very high-level ability to beat the defense and haul in passes. He continues to find the end zone at a high rate and has been a security blanket for whoever has been under center.

It stands to reason that Jefferson will eat into the targets given to Addison and tight end T.J. Hockenson. Before he went down, the largest share of the passing game flowed through him. It’s great that other players could handle a more significant load, but there is no reason not to put Jefferson back in the spot he has always deserved.

When looking at complimentary pieces, it would be nice to see Brandon Powell still have an opportunity within the offense. K.J. Osborn has long been Minnesota’s number three wide receiver, but Powell has stepped up massively while Jefferson has been out. With Addison as the clear number two, finding ways to continue incorporating the former Los Angeles Rams wide receiver needs to be a focal point.

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Bringing Jefferson back into the fold is a serious boost for Minnesota. The offense has remained effective, but getting such an incredible talent back will never go unfelt. How much he is utilized will be a wait-and-see scenario, and that continues to give his teammates runway to do their thing. 

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.