The Minnesota Vikings designated wide receiver Justin Jefferson for return from injured reserve Wednesday, bringing the 2022 NFL Offensive Player of the Year back to practice with three weeks to assess the readiness of his strained right hamstring for game action.
Jefferson’s four-week minimum on IR ended after the Vikings beat Atlanta to improve to 4-0 without their superstar pass-catcher. Putting Jefferson on the field Sunday when Minnesota hosts New Orleans seems unlikely, considering the risk of reinjury to a vital muscle and his long-term value to the team.
The Vikings could keep Jefferson out for three more games and wait until after their Week 13 bye to activate him. They have a 21-day window in which to do so, or else he would be ineligible to play again this season. Minnesota visits Denver on Nov. 19 and hosts Chicago on Nov. 27.
Jefferson was hurt on Oct. 8 while running a route in the fourth quarter of a loss to Kansas City, when he slipped on the U.S. Bank Stadium turf as he was trying to make a cut for a third-down pass from Kirk Cousins. Jefferson had never missed a game until then in his decorated four-year career.
The Vikings also placed running back Cam Akers on injured reserve Wednesday after he tore his left Achilles tendon in the game against the Falcons. They signed former University of Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan for a second stint on their practice squad to add a healthy arm with Cousins (Achilles) done for the season and backups Jaren Hall (concussion) and Nick Mullens (back) also sidelined. Joshua Dobbs will start against the Saints, and practice squad member Sean Mannion is the only other healthy quarterback.