MINNEAPOLIS (AP)A day after star receiver Justin Jefferson had to leave Sunday’s 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs because of a hamstring injury, the Minnesota Vikings were still evaluating the status of their leading receiver.
Jefferson left in the fourth quarter Sunday and wanted to return to the game, Minnesota coach Kevin O’Connell said Monday, but the team chose to sit Jefferson to protect him.
“It probably wasn’t going to be possible, but he was trying to figure out a way,” O’Connell said Monday.
Jefferson slipped on the turf while trying to make a cut on his route during a third down pass deep in Kansas City territory and limped slowly to the sideline after grabbing the back of his right leg.
O’Connell said the team is getting “a couple different opinions” on Jefferson’s injury.
“We’re going to have to, medically, make a good decision and help almost protect him from himself a little bit in a way, where we have to take care of him and get him back to 100%,” O’Connell said.
Jefferson, who watched the remainder of the game from the sideline with a towel draped over his head, led the NFL in receptions and yards last season while being honored as the AP Offensive Player of the Year.
The All-Pro receiver has 36 catches for 571 yards and three touchdowns in five games this season and has never missed a game in his career.
Without Jefferson, the Vikings would need to lean more on rookie receiver Jordan Addison and fourth-year receiver K.J. Osborn, along with tight end T.J. Hockenson.
Addison, who was picked No. 23 overall in the draft this year out of USC, scored his third touchdown of the season in Sunday’s game. The 21-year-old has 19 catches for 249 yards in his first five games. Osborn, who has started alongside Jefferson, has 13 catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns this season
“I’m very confident in that group,” O’Connell said. “A big thing for (Addison) now, and K.J. and really the rest of our receiving corps, our tight ends group and (C.J. Ham) as a fullback, how can we continue to activate a lot of things when a lot of our pass game has really been built around so much coverage being deployed to Justin.”
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