Written by Alec Lewis, Jake Seeley and Diana Rossini
The Minnesota Vikings plan to place wide receiver Justin Jefferson on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, league sources said. Here’s what you need to know:
- Jefferson pulled down a drive in the red zone during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
- By going on injured reserve, Jefferson, 24, will miss at least four games. The Vikings will play the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons during that period.
- The team, which fell to 1-4, “is going to do what’s best for Justin and make sure we give him a treatment and a plan that represents a positive big picture for him,” coach Kevin O’Connell said Monday.
Who goes up?
The responsibility of catching passes falls to wide receiver KJ Osborn, tight end TJ Hockenson and wide receiver Jordan Addison. Osborne’s experience on offense should help him smoothly slide into the “X” receiver role, which is usually occupied by Jefferson. Meanwhile, Hockenson will remain a key target, while Addison’s chances are expected to increase.
Brandon Powell, who was signed this offseason, is also a potential option. O’Connell trusts him after their days together in Los Angeles. This group of four will bear a heavy responsibility if Jefferson misses much time. — Alec Lewis, Minnesota Vikings writer
Big picture impact on the Vikings
Without Jefferson, Minnesota’s attempt to climb out of this early hole faces a tougher test. Jefferson is in his prime and is eligible for an extension. It wouldn’t make sense for the receiver — nor the organization — to rush Jefferson back from a soft-tissue injury when his entire skill set is built on explosiveness.
If the Vikings continue to lose in the short term, and Jefferson remains on the sidelines, bigger questions will come to mind. The October 31 trade deadline is approaching, and the Vikings have several players who could be of interest, such as edge rusher Danielle Hunter and perhaps even quarterback Kirk Cousins. — Louis
Osborne is one of the guys who should be picked up on waivers as long as Jefferson remains out. Addison spent more time outside, but he and Osborne ran 100 percent of the routes after Jefferson’s hit with Osborne 40 percent in the slot (10 routes) to just 16.7 percent for Addison (four). That would give Addison more upside — 14.75 AirYD/TGT to Osborne’s 5.50 — and Addison actually had more end zone targets than Osborne did.
Addison is a WR2/3 and Osborne is in the WR3 conversation without Jefferson. — Jake Seeley, fantasy writer
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Jefferson ranks third in the NFL in both targets (53) and receiving yards (571). Since being selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft by Minnesota, Jefferson has been one of the league’s best players.
He had at least 1,400 receiving yards in each season and led the NFL with 128 catches for 1,809 yards in 2022.
The Vikings picked up Jefferson’s fifth-year contract option in April, and despite talks about a long-term extension held last offseason, he and the team have yet to agree on a deal.
(Photo: David Berding/Getty Images)
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