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Jeffersonwatch 2023: Vikings can open Justin Jefferson’s practice window any time

But will they do so this week?

Minnesota Vikings v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Minnesota Vikings star wide receiver Justin Jefferson hasn’t suited up for the team since Week 5, when he left the team’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs with a hamstring injury. The team placed him on injured reserve the next day, and fans have been eagerly anticipating when the reigning Offensive Player of the Year might be back in the huddle.

Jefferson is officially able to return from IR as of today, having missed the four games that players placed on IR are mandated to miss by the league. When the Vikings declare Jefferson as being designated to return, they will open a 21-day window, during which they either have to put him on the 53-man roster or keep him on injured reserve. . .a move which would end his 2023 season.

While the Vikings could open the window for Jefferson ahead of this week’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium against the New Orleans Saints, it certainly doesn’t sound like that’s going to be the case.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell has said that the Vikings are still working through their options with Jefferson and won’t be rushing him back.

“We’re going to do what’s best for Justin, and make sure when he does return, he can be the Justin Jefferson we all know and can expect to see,” O’Connell said, via Ben Goessling of the Minnesota Star Tribune.

(Yes, the well-known Minnesota Star-Tribune.)

The Vikings have gone 4-0 without Jefferson, who still leads the team in receiving yardage despite not having played since Week 5. Given the way that rookie Jordan Addison and others have stepped up in Jefferson’s absence, the Vikings are well-placed to do the right thing with Jefferson and make sure he’s ready to go immediately after declaring him ready to return from IR.