Justin Jefferson Strikes Down Delayed Return After Vikings Slow Start

Justin Jefferson, Vikings

Getty Wide receiver Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings warms up against the Carolina Panther at Bank of America Stadium on October 01, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Justin Jefferson‘s return from injury has been subject to some scrutiny.

After the Minnesota Vikings‘ 1-4 start to the season, some pundits considered whether Jefferson would not want to risk his body without a lucrative contract extension in hand or his team in the playoff picture.

The 22-year-old star wide receiver put those theories to rest upon his return to practice on Wednesday after a four-week absence.

“That’s a no-brainer,” Jefferson said, referring to his desire to return no matter his team’s record. “I’m always going to want to play football whether we didn’t win the game or had won every single game this season.”

The Vikings broke off contract extension talks with the 2022 NFL Offensive Player of the Year in September, but the two sides have remained amicable since. Furthermore, the idea Jefferson would sit out does not align with the legacy he hopes to build.

“I love the game of football. I always say that I want to be a Hall of Famer so I can’t just sit out, missing games just for the fun of it, or just because we aren’t doing well,” Jefferson said. “I know I have a big role on this team, and I know that every chance that I get to be on that field, I want to make the most of those opportunities.”

The Vikings have won four straight games since Jefferson was placed on the injured reserve list following a Week 5 strained hamstring injury. He is listed as questionable this week in a Week 10 matchup with the New Orleans Saints.

“It’s just all about how I’m feeling and how strong the hamstring is,” Jefferson said, per the Star Tribune. “The hamstring is a difficult injury just because it lingers, and it comes back from time to time if you don’t put the right treatment into it.

“So the guys on the rest of the coaching staff in this building know my worth on the field, and they want me 100 percent — as I do, as well. I don’t want to go out there 80, 90 percent and have the chance of hurting it again. It’s just day-to-day, like I said, and when that time comes, I’ll definitely be ready to step out on that field.”

Vikings’ Justin Jefferson Hypes Josh Dobbs on Sidelines of Week 9 Comeback

Justin Jefferson

GettyJustin Jefferson celebrates a touchdown during the Vikings’ 2022 season-opening victory over the Green Bay Packers.

Despite his absence from the playing field, Jefferson has maintained a presence on the sidelines.

The Vikings star was captured on the sidelines during new quarterback Josh Dobbs‘ heroic comeback over the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday.

Jefferson didn’t give the idea of his return to practice much merit, considering he’s been there supporting his teammates throughout his hamstring recovery.

“It’s not really getting back,” Jefferson said. “I still been with the team. The support is always going to be there. I’m always going to be on the sidelines supporting my teammates.

“I’m just happy to be that leader on the team where you can’t say I’m just sitting at home and worrying about getting back,” Jefferson added.” I want to be there supporting my teammates and being there hands-on.”

 Vikings Week 10 Underdogs to Saints

Kevin O'Connell and Josh Dobbs

GettyKevin O’Connell and Josh Dobbs

While Jefferson is questionable for Sunday’s matchup with the Saints, there have been no reports stating he is expected to play.

The Vikings are considered 3-point underdogs to New Orleans on Sunday as both teams are in the playoff hunt, owning 5-4 records.

Dobbs will get his first start with the Vikings and will have a week of preparation for the game after he filled in for rookie Jaren Hall, who left the game with concussion symptoms, last week.

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