Seems Unlikely Justin Jefferson Plays vs Bears with Week 13 Bye Looming

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Minnesota Vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Jefferson watched another Minnesota Vikings game from the sideline on Sunday, but for the first time since going out with an injury, he witnessed his team lose. So now what? JJ was nearly available for two weeks-straight now, so he’ll definitely play next Monday vs the Chicago Bears, right?

Not so fast. The Vikings have a late week-13 bye this season, which sits right around the corner, after their Monday Night Football matchup vs the Bears. Does it really make sense to ramp Jefferson up to full speed for one game, just so he can sit for two weeks after?

Vikings bye week could affect Justin Jefferson’s return

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When first asked about Jefferson’s injury recovery, Vikings head coach, Kevin O’Connell gave the generic, ‘he had a great week last week’ and ‘we’ll see how he progresses during practice this week’, etc.

But when asked during his Zoom press conference if the week 13 bye factored into JJ’s return, KOC made it very clear that, yes, the bye will weigh heavily into their decisionsmaking.

“I think [the bye week] will definitely go in to the decision making process. Like I said, it’s an injury that I think we’re, you know, right at that six week mark or so and, and you know, he’s really attacked his rehab.

And I think when that time comes, we’ll feel comfortable with Justin being out there. I know Justin will as well. It’s one of those things that, when you have the bye and knowing, you know, five critical opportunities to come after that bye, we do have to be smart.

This is a player that means a ton to our organization both for this home stretch, to try to solidify our position in the playoffs and try to compete in the division as much as we possibly can. But, you know, Justin means a lot more than just these five or six games. As critical as they are. His long term career here is is is the priority.”

Kevin O’Connell on Justin Jefferson’s injury status

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I’m not saying Justin Jefferson is out for sure next week, but I do not feel confident he will be on the field, after watching O’Connell’s presser. Obviously, JJ and the Vikings are being extremely cautious with his return.

Normally, I wouldn’t call a return from injury one week prior to a bye as “reckless”. But given how the team has approached Jefferson’s hamstring thus far, I’d imagine they would classify it as exactly that.

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