MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings will place wide receiver Justin Jefferson on injured reserve, according to a person with knowledge of the decision, forcing the 2022 NFL Offensive Player of the Year to miss at least the next four games because of a hamstring injury.
The person confirmed the decision to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the Vikings had not finalized the move.
Jefferson slipped on the U.S. Bank Stadium 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 in the fourth quarter of the 27-20 loss to the Chiefs.
Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell, speaking to reporters on Monday, made it clear the team would be extra cautious with their most important and extremely competitive player.
“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.
Without Jefferson, Kirk Cousins and the Vikings will have to lean hard on rookie Jordan Addison, their first-round draft pick who is off to a promising start. Fellow wide receivers K.J. Osborn and Brandon Powell will have their roles elevated, and tight end T.J. Hockenson will be even more vital on third downs.
Addison has 19 catches for 249 yards and three touchdowns in his first five games.
“I’m very confident in that group,” O’Connell said.
The Vikings could hardly have had a worse setback after losing four of their first five games, all by eight points or fewer. Their entire offense is built around Jefferson, who has set all kinds of all-time records just five games into his fourth NFL season. He has 36 catches for 571 yards and three touchdowns and never has missed a game in his career until now.
Minnesota (1-4) plays at Chicago (1-4) on Sunday.
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