When will Justin Jefferson return? Latest on Vikings WR’s injury

Minnesota Vikings All-Pro wide receiver Justin Jefferson suffered a hamstring injury in his team’s Week 5 27-20 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs. The injury comes as a significant loss to the Vikings, as they hang on to their slim postseason hopes.

Jefferson suffered the injury on Sunday, with the timetable for the perennial Pro Bowler’s recovery being up in the air for the time being.

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What happened to Justin Jefferson?

According to ESPN, Justin Jefferson went down early in the fourth quarter versus Kansas City and was unable to return. He ended the day with three catches for 28 scoreless yards on six targets. It turned out to be a hamstring injury on analysis, which could spell doom for the Vikings.

Hamstring injuries for wide receivers are a slippery slope. Just take a look at Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams. He missed the business end of the 2022 NFL season with a hamstring issue and remains out heading into Week 6 of the 2023 season.

Kupp was put on injured reserve with a hamstring injury before the season, meaning he will miss four weeks at minimum. It remains to be seen when the former Triple Crown champ makes his season debut for the Rams.

Who is Justin Jefferson’s backup on the Vikings’ roster?

The Minnesota Vikings offense revolves around Jefferson, so his absence will be detrimental to their playoff hopes.

Jefferson has been a top-five wideout since he got selected in the first round of the 2020 Draft. However, as he will be spending some time on the sidelines, the Vikings might have to rely on other pass catchers. The Vikings wide receivers who could step up are Jordan Addison and K. J. Osborn.

Jefferson’s primary backup on the Vikings depth chart is Addison.

Addison was drafted by the Vikings in round one of the 2023 NFL Draft, joining as a backup to Jefferson and Osborn. He has amassed 249 passing yards and three touchdowns in his rookie season. He could get more targets in the coming weeks, depending on Jefferson’s availability.

Next on the wideout depth chart is K. J. Osborn. The Vikings drafted K. J. Osborn in round five of the 2020 Draft. Osborn had a decent rookie season, ending the year with 655 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

He achieved that while being the third-string wideout, behind Adam Thielen and Jefferson. Osborn’s 2022 season was similar to his rookie year in terms of productivity, as he put up 650 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 17 games. He has amassed 166 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 2023.

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