Justin Jefferson Determined to Return But Not Until Hamstring is 100%

Photo: Alec Lewis (The Athletic) - @alec_lewis - Twitter

Justin Jefferson is back at practice with the Minnesota Vikings, but when he’ll be fully activated to the 53-man roster and on the field for game day is still TBD. On Thursday, JJ spoke with media for the first time since he suffering the hamstring injury and answered all the questions… without really giving anything away on his return timeline.

JJ answered a few questions that had been circling during his absence. He laughed when asked if he really thought about sitting out the rest of the season, citing his dedication to the Vikings, teammates and an eventual HOF induction. But in the end, said he isn’t returning until 100% healthy, leaving much to be desired on when he’ll be in uniform and available again.

Justin Jefferson won’t play until hamstring is 100%

Throughout the interview, Jefferson made it clear how much he is itching to play football again, and he’s shown his dedication to teammates by being present around the facilities throughout the week and on the sideline + locker room during games.

But JJ also made it very clear that he is not going to be on that field again until his bad hamstring is 100% again. Not 80% or 90%… he needs it to be 100%, which he said it is getting closer and closer to being every day.

“It’s all about how I’m feeling and how strong the hamstring is. Hamstring is a difficult injury because it lingers. It comes back from time to time if you don’t put the right treatment into it. The guys and the rest of the coaching staff in this building know my worth on this field. They want me 100%, which I do as well. I don’t want to go out there 80-90% and have the chance of hurting it again. It’s just day-to-day, like I said. When that time comes, I’ll definitely be ready to step out on that field.”

Vikings record has no effect on Jefferson’s return

Another thing that JJ wanted to make clear today with media, was that his eventual return has nothing to do with the Minnesota Vikings win/loss record. There were rumors floating a few weeks ago that Jefferson may elect not to return, if the team didn’t turn their season around.

We never got to find for sure, because the Vikings are on a 4-game winning streak, since JJ’s injury and their record is now 5-4. But Jefferson told reporters Thursday that he is dedicated to being there for his teammates, no matter the team’s record, and that he’s also motivated to one day being enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame. In his words, that will be a lot more difficult if he isn’t on the field.

Reporter: “How sure were you that you wanted to come back this season and play?”

JJ: “Oh, that’s a no-brainer. I’m always going to want to play football, whether we didn’t win a game or we’ve won every single game. I love the game of football. I always say that I want to be a Hall of Famer so I can’t be sitting out missing games for the fun of it and just because we’re not doing well. I know that I have a big role on this team and I know that every chance I get to be on this field, I want to make the most of those opportunities.”

JJ doles out blame for his hamstring injury

When asked about what he thinks caused the hamstring injury he suffered one month ago vs the Kansas City Chiefs, JJ blamed it mostly on being a freak accident. I did find it interesting, however, that he also heaped blame on himself, noting that he needs to do a better job of keeping his feet under him and being under control while moving.

justin jefferson hamstring injury minnesota vikings return
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

When multiple reporters tried to get him to place blame on the U.S. Bank Stadium turf, which is being replaced in the offseason, Jefferson refused to take the bait, though he did say it’s possible his home field turf had something to do with the injury.

JJ: “Yeah, it was a freak accident. I felt pretty good going into the game. I didn’t really have any hamstring problems; a little tightness but not really too much to be worried about. Yeah, it just happened. Bad timing, bad positioning. But I also have to look at my technique, having my footwork under me, my feet under me and not get into those types of situations.

Reporter: You don’t think the turf had any issue, there?

JJ: It could have had a slight issue but I’m not going to blame it on the turf.

Reporter: Do you have any trepidation about playing on the split-field surface coming off of this?

JJ: Ummm, I mean, it is what it is. Every team is not going to have the perfect surface. And that just goes back to me saying that I need to be 100% whenever I step out onto that that field. I don’t want to have any doubts in my mind that it’s going to come back or that it’s going to continue to linger throughout the season. So I feel like that is the main objective, at this moment, is to get to 100%.

We still do not know when Justin Jefferson will return to the play games for the Minnesota Vikings. But one thing is clear, he did an absolute master class in this interview on how to say everything needed, without saying really anything at all.

Not only can JJ catch footballs with the best of them, he can spin a narrative in pretty impressive fashion, as well. Here is JJ’s full interview:

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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