Vikings All-Pro wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who has missed the last six games while on injured reserve with a right hamstring injury, is “questionable” for Monday night’s game against the Bears, coach Kevin O’Connell said Monday.
Jefferson has been practicing on a limited basis since Nov. 8, but both he and O’Connell are being extra careful about Jefferson returning too quickly. The Vikings (6-5) had won five consecutive games without Jefferson before a 21-20 loss to the Broncos on Sunday at Mile High Stadium. But O’Connell said that will not push the Vikings to rush Jefferson back.
“There’s been real urgency throughout this whole process. But also, with our mindset on being smart and being sure that he feels as good as possible, as [close] as we can to him feeling 100 percent when he comes back,” O’Connell told Vikings reporters.
“I know he had a really good week last week. We’ll have an extra day this week of kind of time for him to turn over. We’ll continue to push him more. As of right now, I look at him as questionable for the football game.”
The Vikings have a bye after the Bears game, which would give Jefferson a free week to get close to 100%.
“I think that will definitely go into the decision-making process,” O’Connell said. “It’s one of those things that knowing you have the bye, and knowing five critical opportunities are 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 still try to compete in the division as much as we possibly can. But Justin means a lot more than these five or six games, as critical as they are. His long-term career here is the priority.”
Jefferson has 36 receptions for 571 yards and three touchdowns this season. He is averaging 135.8 receiving yards in the four games he has started and finished.
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