Final Verdict Rendered on Justin Jefferson at Denver

Justin Jefferson Is about
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Not yet.

That’s the word from the Minnesota Vikings regarding Justin Jefferson’s return from injured reserve. The reigning Offensive Player of the Year was questionable all week with a lingering hamstring injury but won’t play in the Vikings’ Sunday Night Football showdown at the Denver Broncos.

Final Verdict Rendered on Justin Jefferson at Denver

The Vikings’ main social media account tweeted Saturday, one day before the SNF matchup, “WR Justin Jefferson and G Chris Reed have been downgraded to OUT.”

Final Verdict Rendered
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

In most circumstances or seasons, such news would make Vikings fans grumble or head for the hills with sorrow, but 2023 is different. Somehow, almost every drop of Minnesota’s football operations improved the moment Jefferson hurt his hamstring, from the defensive to offensive efficiency, plus special teams.

A strange coincidence indeed, the Vikings have won five consecutive games without Jefferson, and the streak directly aligns with his absence.

A New Wrinkle
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

In Denver, Minnesota will meet a hot team, too, as Sean Payton’s club has chipped off three straight foes, including the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Buffalo Bills. Once dead in the water with a 1-5 record, Denver has attempted to salvage its season, situated in the middle-bottom of the AFC playoff standings.

The Vikings, on the other hand, are in a firm spot to reach the playoffs, possessing an 87.5% probability to make the postseason tournament, according to ESPN, courtesy of the recent win fivesome.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Jefferson spoke of his personal criteria to return this week, “Making sure that after I work out, I’m not feeling sore, I’m not feeling achy. That’s kind of what we’ve been dealing with throughout the past weeks. Every day, we’re just trying to attack it more and more.”

Pass-catchers Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson have stepped up like gangbusters in Jefferson’s stead.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

“I’m the main person that’s going to make the decision. I’m the person that’s going out there running. I’m the person that’s putting my body on the line to win games and do things for this organization. I know how I feel. I know how my hamstring’s feeling,” Jefferson elaborated Thursday on the decision-making process concerning his return.

Newcomer but not-newcomer Vikings defender Anthony Barr was activated Saturday and is expected to play Sunday night.

The Vikings are three-point underdogs at Denver.


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.

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