Justin Jefferson Update? “Ramping Up.”

Justin Jefferson
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Last week, during the build-up to the Minnesota Vikings showdown with the New Orleans Saints, wide receiver Justin Jefferson was officially questionable, but most knew he probably wouldn’t play.

But that was then, and this is now.

Justin Jefferson Update? “Ramping Up.”

Jefferson remains questionable with a hamstring injury, according to the injury report, but the reigning Offensive Player of the Year actually has a reasonable chance to play this weekend at the Denver Broncos.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell spoke to reporters Wednesday about Jefferson’s recovery, “He’s going to do a little bit more today. We’ll see how he responds to that. A little bit more tomorrow. We’re in that day-to-day ramping-him-up phase. We’ll determine if it’s possible at all to have him for this weekend.”

The Vikings have been hellbent on “ramping Jefferson up” in the last seven days, so soon, they’ll do precisely that, and he’ll be a full go for a game. That could possibly be Sunday night at Denver.

A New Wrinkle
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Curiously, Minnesota hasn’t needed Jefferson to prosper in the last five games. The playmaker was injured in Week 5 versus the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Vikings lost that game, sinking their record to 1-4. Some fans even speculated that Jefferson could be tossed on injured reserve for the year because it was trending so poorly.

But then the purple team hit its groove by reducing turnovers and fostering a suddenly good Brian Flores-led defense on the fly. The team Jefferson will experience this Sunday or the week after will have a markedly different mindset than the middle of October.

Somebody Was Out
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Winners of five straight, Minnesota is the NFL’s hottest team after the Jacksonville Jaguars were flogged by the San Francisco 49ers. According to the EPA/Play efficiency metric, Minnesota’s offense and defense are Top 11 units after 10 games.

Meanwhile, O’Connell’s team owns an 86% playoff probability per ESPN, and when Jefferson hit IR, those odds were below 20%. Jefferson will also receive passes in a meaningful game from a man not named Kirk Cousins for the first time in his career, as Josh Dobbs took over after Cousins tore his Achilles in Week 8.

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings should only get better with Jefferson’s return, although oddsmakers peg the Broncos as 2.5-point favorites for Sunday Night Football. Perhaps that point spread will fluctuate if Jefferson is activated.

Jefferson’s teammate, K.J. Osborn, was listed as a full practice participant Wednesday after missing last weekend within the NFL’s concussion protocol.

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.