Will Justin Jefferson make his highly-anticipated return from injured reserve next Monday night against the Bears? It's certainly possible, depending on how his hamstring feels in practice this week. He's still working on building up the endurance to play an entire game without any discomfort or limitations.
"I know he had a really good week last week," Kevin O'Connell said on Monday. "We'll have an extra day this week of time for him to turn over. We'll continue to push him more. As of right now, I look at him as questionable for the football game. (He'll do) a little more work throughout the week and (we'll) see where he's at come the weekend as far as his availability for Monday night. But he's progressing really well."
With all of that said, it's very much worth acknowledging that the Vikings have their bye the following week. If they decide to keep Jefferson out for what should be a winnable home game against the 3-8 Bears, he'd have another 13 full days to get ready for a Week 14 game against the Raiders in Las Vegas.
More and more, that seems like the most logical move for the Vikings, who will need Jefferson for the final five games of the regular season and a potential playoff run.
"I think that will definitely go into the decision-making process," O'Connell said. "It's an injury that I think we're right at that six week mark or so, and he's really attacked his rehab. I think when that time comes, we'll feel comfortable with Justin being out there. Knowing you have the bye and five critical opportunities to come after that bye, we do have to be smart. This is a player that means a ton to our organization."
Again, Jefferson shouldn't be totally ruled out for Monday night's game. But it continues to sound like the most likely outcome is he makes his return in Week 14 after missing a seventh game.
Here are some other Vikings injury updates from O'Connell:
Lowry to IR
An MRI confirmed that DT Dean Lowry tore his pectoral muscle, so he'll have surgery and be placed on IR. His season is likely over. The Vikings have been leaning on Harrison Phillips, Jonathan Bullard, Khyiris Tonga, and Jaquelin Roy at that position in recent weeks.
Backup OL Chris Reed will be activated from IR to take Lowry's roster spot.
Evans' status for Monday
CB Akayleb Evans missed Sunday night's loss due to a calf injury. The Vikings would love to get him back against the Bears, but that's another one where it'll depend on how he progresses throughout the week. If it's a close call, the Vikings could choose to give him the extra 13 days of recovery time as well.
"He'll progress throughout the week and I'm looking at him as questionable for the game," O'Connell said on Evans. "But he's doing very well. Got some good work in over the weekend."
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