Justin Jefferson’s Outlook for Next Game Doesn’t Sound Good

Vikings Arrange Meeting with Top Receiver Prospect
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The Minnesota Vikings live in a rough place through five games.

Justin Jefferson’s Outlook for Next Game Doesn’t Sound Good

They have NFC North showdowns looming at Soldier Field and Lambeau Field in the next three weeks, a 1-4 record has kicked off festivities, the San Francisco 49ers invade Minneapolis in 14 days, and Justin Jefferson injured his hamstring.

None of that bodes well for a team hoping to mend a season on the fly, especially after a 13-4 record one year ago.

Outlook for Next Game
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And in the short term, Jefferson’s immediate prognosis doesn’t sound ideal. Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said Monday after Minnesota’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, “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, widely known for eternal optimism, usually utilizes more hopeful lingo than that regarding his players, and “what’s best for Jefferson” seems to imply playing it safe for his long-term injury security.

A New Wrinkle
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“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%,” O’Connell added.

Protecting him from himself also sounds like a precursor to missing games, especially on a field in Chicago that is not known for hospitality. The field’s reputation isn’t far from the bad notoriety of FedEx Field in Landover.

Somebody Was Out
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The outlook if Jefferson can’t play on Sunday? A heavy dosage of rookie Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson, plus a promotion for Brandon Powell and more targets for K.J. Osborn. In a strange twist of fate, life without Jefferson, no matter how long, may force the Vikings to run the ball, which they have not done much in 2023.

Minnesota has run the football 29.5% of the time through five games, the least in the NFL. The Vikings also rank second-to-last via time of possession, two statistics that feed into each other.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

There is still time for Jefferson’s diagnosis to improve, but based on O’Connell’s words from Monday, this is how the path to his absence would begin. The team must protect Jefferson for the long term, and trotting him out on Soldier Field could be considered silly if the injury isn’t minor.

The Vikings are early road favorites to take down the Bears by three points, with or without Jefferson.

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.