The Minnesota Vikings will continue to tread carefully with star receiver Justin Jefferson with coach Kevin O’Connell hinting he may miss Monday’s clash against the Chicago Bears due to the bye week that follows.
Jefferson has been out of action since sustaining a right hamstring injury against the Kansas City Chiefs on October 8.
It’s thought he’s close to a comeback but the Vikings may opt to leave him out against the Bears and give him an additional fortnight to recover before reintroducing him against the Las Vegas Raiders on December 10.
O’Connell told reporters: “I think that [the bye] will definitely go into the decision-making process.
“We’re right at that six-week mark or so. He’s really attacked his rehab, and I think when that time comes, we’ll feel comfortable with Justin being out there.
“I know Justin will as well. It’s one of those things that knowing you have the bye, and knowing there are five critical [games] to come after that bye, we do have to be smart.”
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The Vikings are 6-5 on the season and right in the middle of the play-off conversation, although O’Connell was looking long-term when asked about the impact Jefferson’s return could have on his team.
He added: “This is a player that means a ton to our organization, both for this home stretch to try to solidify our positioning in the play-offs and still try to compete in the division as much as we possibly can, but Justin means a lot more than just these five or six games, as critical as they are. His long-term career here is the priority.”
The Vikings went down 21-20 to the Denver Broncos on Sunday night – the defeat ending their five-game winning streak.