The Vikings got quarterback Kirk Cousins back this week after a polarizing stint on the COVID-19 reserve list, but now they’re without star wide receiver Justin Jefferson, at least for the time being. As multiple reports indicated, the second-year pass catcher was forced out of Friday’s practice after suffering a shoulder injury. Jefferson clutched his arm after falling to the ground at the end of a pass target during situational drills before leaving. ESPN and NFL Network report the receiver has been diagnosed with either a sprained AC joint or separated shoulder and is set to undergo further testing on the injury.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter indicated that Jefferson’s ailment is “nothing serious,” but the wide receiver is still scheduled to have an additional exam this weekend. The 2020 standout, who set an NFL rookie record with 1,400 receiving yards, did not return to practice after leaving, leaving Chad Beebe and new faces Dede Westbrook and Ihmir Smith-Marsette to help fill in opposite Adam Thielen out wide. He was already unlikely to see much time in the Vikings’ 2021 preseason, for precautionary reasons.
Though early indications are that Jefferson’s injury isn’t serious, it’s unclear if the AC joint sprain will affect the receiver’s status for Week 1 of the regular season on Sept. 12 in Cleveland. That’s not necessarily good news for Minnesota, considering how important Jefferson was to the club’s offense as a rookie. Entering 2021, CBS Sports named the former LSU standout one of the NFL’s 32 most irreplaceable players, citing the big-play ability Jefferson brings to a wide receiver room without many proven options beyond Thielen.