Vikings might have to protect injured star receiver Justin Jefferson from himself

If star receiver Justin Jefferson had his way, he would have been on the field for the Vikings on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium as they tried to mount a comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Instead, he stood on the sidelines with a towel draped over his head through the final minutes of the 27-20 loss, nursing a hamstring injury that forced him out of the game.

Talking to reporters on Monday at TCO Performance Center, head coach Kevin O’Connell said the Vikings are still trying to determine how much time Jefferson will miss moving forward. The hamstring injury occurred late in the game while Jefferson was trying to make a cut to get open. He missed most of the fourth quarter as the Vikings dropped to 1-4 .

“He’s down today,” O’Connell said. “He’s obviously among the most ultra-competitors I’ve ever met.”

Asked if he’s optimistic that Jefferson will be available for the Vikings when they travel to play the Chicago Bears this weekend, O’Connell continued to play his cards close to the vest. He then referenced how a lot of it is now in the hands of the Vikings’ medical staff of Tyler Williams and Uriah Myrie.

It’s worth noting that Jefferson has never missed a game in his NFL career, so he isn’t willingly going to sit out.

“We’re going to have to medically make a good decision and almost protect him from himself a little bit,” O’Connell said. “We have to take care of him and get him back to 100 percent.”

The fact that Jefferson relies so much on his explosiveness both while running routes and going up to make contested catches is a major factor in the recovery process. Would the Vikings need to see him back to 100 percent in order to clear him to return to the field?

“To be determined on all that,” O’Connell said. “We are going to do what is best for Justin and make sure we give him the treatment and a plan that is a big-picture positive for him.”

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