Vikings WR Justin Jefferson ‘excited to be back’ from hamstring injury

Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates a first down catch against the Chicago Bears in the first quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Bears 29-22. (David Berding / Getty Images)

Justin Jefferson is tired of sitting on a training table while his Minnesota Vikings’ teammates practice and play games.

After a seven-game absence due to a hamstring injury, this week marks the long-awaited return for Jefferson. He was activated from injured reserve during the bye week, within his 21-day practice window, and was a full participant in the Vikings’ Wednesday practice for the first time since going down in Week 5. The Vikings went 5-2 without him.

Every expectation is that he’ll be dressed and playing at the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.

"I feel pretty good, I’m excited to be back on the field, to be playing with this team and to finally just be active on that field. I’m excited about that, excited to see what we can do on that field," Jefferson said Thursday from TCO Performance Center.

As much as he loves his training and recovery staff, he won’t miss the days of rehab while the team practiced.

"Every single day, I tell them how much it sucks to be in here. They hated that I said that, but they know that I just want to be back on the field and be back with the team," Jefferson said. "It’s definitely kudos to them doing a fantastic job with me through this whole process."

The main difference since Jefferson has been out is that he’ll have a different quarterback throwing to him. With Kirk Cousins out for the season due to a torn Achilles, Joshua Dobbs will get his third start on Sunday. Jefferson had 36 catches for 571 yards and three touchdowns when he got injured, and had aspirations of a 2,000-yard season.

Now the goal is to eclipse 1,000 yards, but he wants to win and lead the Vikings to the playoffs.

He did say there were dark days during the recovery process, and it wasn’t easy to stay positive. Jefferson hadn’t suffered a significant injury since he broke an elbow in high school, but he wasn’t a varsity player at that time.

"It sucks, it’s kind of terrible. It’s a terrible feeling, just feeling hopelessness for not being on the field. The fans expect you to come out and play every single week, teammates expect you to come out and play hard every single week, so it’s tough being on the sideline and switching roles into more of a coaching role," Jefferson said. "But I’m finally back now and I’m very excited to be back on the field."

He was close to playing against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, but they didn’t want to risk the chance of re-injury with the bye week looming. Jefferson says he’s just as explosive now as he was before the injury.

"Of course. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be playing. That was the main focus into getting back on the field is having that same explosion, having that same power, having that same speed as I did before the injury," Jefferson said. "I feel myself and feel 100 percent. Just go out there and let it all out."