Justin Jefferson’s Much-Anticipated Return Officially Has a Date

Vikings Questions
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) runs after a catch against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings will be without their star wide receiver Justin Jefferson when they take on the Chicago Bears on Monday night.

However, amidst the report from Tom Pelissero of NFL Network that Jefferson officially will not be activated for the game, there was also a set return date for the wide receiver to return this season: Week 14 at the Las Vegas Raiders.

Justin Jefferson Has a Return Date

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) stiff arms Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis III (24) in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Pelissero tweeted on Monday morning, “Vikings star WR Justin Jefferson is “very close” to returning from his hamstring injury, per source, but the team will play it safe and not activate him for tonight’s game vs. Chicago. Jefferson is expected to be 100% after the bye, practice fully and play Dec. 10 at Las Vegas.”

The Vikings have continued to take a big picture approach with Jefferson throughout the recovery process from his hamstring injury which landed him on IR after Week 5. Both Jefferson and head coach Kevin O’Connell have preached patience as the star makes his way back onto the field.

Jefferson has been practicing in a limited fashion for a few weeks now, but with the bye approaching, the Vikings are taking an opportunity to allow him to get an extra week of rest before bringing him back.

Justin Jefferson
Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) during the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

At 6-5, it’s a luxury that the Vikings can afford. They are not in jeopardy of losing their playoff spot even if they fall to the 3-8 Bears on Monday night. With a win, they’d improve to 7-5 and move up to the No. 6 seed in the NFC while inching closer to the Detroit Lions in the NFC North division.

It isn’t necessarily like the Vikings offense has clearly tapered off without him, either. Minnesota is 5-1 in the six games that they’ve played without Jefferson this season, which has allowed them to get back into the playoff picture after their 1-4 start to the season.

In Jefferson’s stead, the Vikings have heavily utilized players like Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson, K.J. Osborn, and Brandon Powell in the passing game. Hockenson, in particular, has been outstanding. Over the past six games, the tight end has totaled 45 receptions for 482 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) celebrates his touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings success over the past month and a half is a huge credit to O’Connell and his coaching staff. They’ve continued to put players in the perfect positions to succeed, and it has resulted in multiple big wins.

Now, Minnesota just needs to get through one more game before they get a week off, and then, their star receiver will be back on the field. With three pivotal divisional games over the final five weeks of the season, Jefferson’s return comes at the perfect time.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.