Is Justin Jefferson playing in Week 12 for Vikings?

Is Vikings superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson about to make his return to the lineup?

New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings
New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

Minnesota Vikings star wide receiver Justin Jefferson has been out since a 27-20 Week 5 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs with a right hamstring injury. Despite his injury and the injury to quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Vikings are second in the NFC North and currently in one of the three Wild Card slots.

On Monday Night Football for Week 12, the Vikings will face the struggling Chicago Bears at home. Fans are wondering if Jefferson will be able to make his return to the lineup after missing months of action, because even though, on paper, the Vikings are much stronger than the Bears, division rivalry matchups can often be a toss-up.

Minnesota's margin for error is also slim in this tightest of Wild Card battles in the NFC.

Is Justin Jefferson playing this week vs. Bears? Week 12 Vikings injury update

Jefferson told reporters on Friday that the hamstring still has not fully healed, which is the only reason why he's been unable to feature in the last six matchups for Minnesota. He made a pointed remark that his absences have nothing to do with his contract, which ends in 2025 after he and the Vikes failed to agree to a long-term extension this past summer.

Clearly, Jefferson is frustrated by the slow healing process of his injury and perhaps even more frustrated by the reaction of Vikings fans. While you can understand fans wanting their superstar back on the field to help them secure a playoff spot, it's hard for an athlete to hear that they are being accused of taking it easy solely because of a contractual issue.

Jefferson is one of the most explosive athletes in the NFL. He is a playmaker and a speed demon who can turn any touch into a touchdown. For any player but especially for him, a hamstring injury is a big deal and needs to be managed carefully. Coming back too soon can lead to a reaggravation, a cycle of injuries, and a loss of effectiveness on the field.

Since he has not practiced for three weeks and the Vikings have a bye week in Week 13, it honestly makes more sense for him to be held out of the Bears game on Monday night. Many fans won't want to hear that and are itching to see 2022's leader in receptions and yards back on the field, but it makes no sense to bring him back if he's not 100 percent confident in that hamstring.

Minnesota should be able to take care of the Bears even without JJ jetting down the sideline. He can get the extra time to recover with the bye and start fresh for the stretch run of the NFL season.

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