Vikings Make Final Call on Justin Jefferson for MNF

Vikings Arrange Meeting with Top Receiver Prospect
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They’re going to play it safe.

That’s the word out of Minneapolis regarding wide receiver Justin Jefferson as the Minnesota Vikings host the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.

Vikings Make Final Call on Justin Jefferson for MNF

Jefferson has missed the Vikings’ last six games with a hamstring injury, and his Week 12 absence will nudge the tally to seven.

Vikings Make Final Call
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The Athletic’s Alec Lewis tweeted Monday morning, “The Vikings are not activating Justin Jefferson for tonight’s game against the Bears, per source. Tom Pelissero was on it. Team and Jefferson operating with big picture in mind as they’ve done from the outset of hamstring injury in Week 5.”

Thankfully for the team’s sake, the Vikings are 5-1 without Jefferson and, in fact, began winning games the moment he fell injured — an oddity, to be sure.

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Jefferson was listed as questionable last week, too, for a game at the Denver Broncos, but most fans knew it was an extreme longshot for him to play. Then the game rolled around, Jefferson, in fact, did not play, and Minnesota lost by one point.

This week, though, a bit more sanguinity existed about Jefferson’s odds to play. He personally sounded enthusiastic, at least to an extent, on Friday. “If I miss this one, it’s going to be the seventh game, so it’s definitely frustrating, and it’s tough to be patient and try to make sure that an injury heals properly. It’s definitely not something I want to do, but it comes with the game, it comes with trying to be healthy, trying to be 100% and the safe route,” Jefferson told reporters.

Justin Jefferson
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) signals first down after a catch against the Chicago Bears in the first quarter of an NFL game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Jefferson also mentioned Friday, “I’m not sure. We’ll see. We still have more days to practice and really evaluate everything. We’re going to weigh the options correctly, making sure that I’m feeling well and prepared to play a game, and if I’m feeling good, I will play.”

Unlike last week, the Vikings are favored to win against the Bears, whereas an underdog status followed them into Denver. Minnesota was a three-point road underdog in Week 11 and is a three-point home favorite in Week 12.

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The safe route with Jefferson checks out because Minnesota has a bye next week. The team can be close to 100% certain that Jefferson is ready for Week 14 at the Las Vegas Raiders and continue to effectuate its playoff push down the stretch of the season —with Jefferson in the lineup.

Hamstring injuries in sports are dicey. If a player returns too soon and reaggravates the ailment, they can be right back where it all started and out for 4-6 weeks. If Monday’s game versus the Bears were a playoff game, perhaps the risk would be worthwhile. But it is not, and Minnesota prefers Jefferson at full strength when games matter the most.

Tight end T.J. Hockenson and wide receiver Jordan Addison will be on tap for another large workload with Jefferson out once again.

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).

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