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Justin Jefferson Hits Injured Reserve as Vikings Make Roster Moves

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings on Wednesday placed superstar receiver Justin Jefferson on Injured Reserve because of a hamstring injury he suffered Sunday in Minnesota's Week 5 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Backup quarterback Nick Mullens also was placed on Injured Reserve Wednesday because of a back injury that sidelined him in Week 5.

Additionally, the Vikings signed receivers N'Keal Harry and Trishton Jackson from their practice squad to the 53-man roster and announced the signings of Sean Mannion, receiver Dan Chisena and tight end Troy Fumagalli to their practice squad.

Running back/kick return specialist Kene Nwangwu, who has been on Injured Reserve, has been Designated for Return/Returned to Practice, opening a 21-day window for the team to evaluate Nwangwu's progress.

Harry has been elevated from Minnesota's practice squad each of the past two weeks. He's played one offensive snap and 11 special teams snaps after first joining the Vikings during training camp. Jackson played one snap on offense and six on special teams against the Chargers in Week 3.

Mannion and Chisena will know their way around Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center. Mannion appeared in four games for the Vikings from 2019-21 and was with the team during the 2022 preseason. Chisena made the Vikings roster as an undrafted free agent in 2020. He appeared in 27 games from 2020-22, playing 11 snaps on offense in 2021 and totaling 496 snaps on special teams. Chisena spent the offseason with the Steelers.

Fumagalli, who played college football at Wisconsin and entered the NFL as a fifth-round pick by the Broncos in 2018, totaled 14 receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns with Denver from 2019-20. He also spent time with the Patriots during the 2021 offseason and with the 49ers practice squad (2022-23).

Jefferson left Sunday's game early in the fourth quarter and was unable to return as the Vikings comeback attempt fell shy in a 27-20 loss. He was still being evaluated Monday when Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell participated in his day-after-game media session.

"I think there will probably be a couple different opinions on it, but we have to get the MRI of it and take a look and find out exactly what it is, where it is, if there's any other factors that go into it and determine what the best decision for him to get him back to 100 percent as fast as possible, but he's down [Monday]," O'Connell said. "He obviously is one of the most ultra-competitors that I've ever met, and shoot, he was trying to go back in the game as it was, so 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 percent."

Minnesota (1-4) is scheduled to visit Chicago (1-4) in Week 6 for a noon (CT) kickoff at Soldier Field.

Jefferson has played all 55 possible regular-season games since joining the Vikings as a first-round pick in 2020.

He's totaled 360 receptions for 5,396 yards and 28 touchdowns so far. This season, he leads Minnesota with 36 receptions (tied for sixth in the NFL) and 571 yards (third in the league through Week 5). He is tied for the team high with three receiving touchdowns.

NFL Injured Reserve rules mean Jefferson will miss at least the next four games (at Chicago, home against San Francisco, at Green Bay and at Atlanta) before he is eligible to return.

The injury will at least temporarily pause Jefferson's climbing of the record books.

O'Connell was asked if hamstrings require 100-percent recovery before a player returns.

"That is a really good question, and I think it may [depend] a lot of times on what that player's job may be. Wide receiver running, and the way he runs, and the way he opens up – every single play it seems like he is running full speed and exploding off the ball," O'Connell said. "To be determined on all that, but we are going to do what is best for Justin and make sure we give him the treatment and a plan that is a big-picture positive for him."

In the meantime, the Vikings will have to account for the absence of one of the best players at any position in the league who has produced more than a quarter of the team's receptions and 38.1 percent of the team's receiving yards this season.

Tight end T.J. Hockenson ranks second on the team with 30 receptions for 254 yards; rookie receiver Jordan Addison has 19 catches for 249 yards and caught his third career touchdown on Sunday.

Addison totaled six catches for 64 yards against the Chiefs.

"That's why I'm here. That's why they brought me here, for me to show them my abilities and my athleticism. I feel like I'm pretty much doing it," Addison said. "Five games in, it's pretty much slowing down, but each week I'm going up against a pretty solid opponent, so I've got to make sure I'm not getting complacent, I'm staying at the top of my game, and I'm working hard throughout the week of practice."

O'Connell said Addison's play speed "really jumped out" against the Chiefs.

"I don't know if you guys felt that as well, but no matter what he was doing, he was running and was going. He was getting on edges, running away from coverage," O'Connell said. "He's getting maximum yards after catch. Elite-hands catches. So many things you like about receiver play he does so naturally, and he's just improving with every opportunity he gets."

K.J. Osborn has 13 catches for 166 yards and two scores.

The Vikings also have tried to involve running back Alexander Mattison in the passing game. He's totaled 76 yards on 14 catches but caught his second touchdown of the season after Jefferson left Sunday's game.

Tight end Josh Oliver (eight catches for 64 yards and a touchdown) and Brandon Powell (five for 48 yards) also had more opportunities.

The Vikings placed receiver Jalen Nailor on Injured Reserve in Week 3.

Receivers Lucky Jackson and Thayer Thomas remain on Minnesota's practice squad.

In Jefferson's absence, the Vikings could consider utilizing groupings of 12 (one running back, two tight ends and two receivers) or 21 (two running backs and one tight end and two receivers) personnel more often than 11 (one running back, one tight end and three receivers).

So far this season, Minnesota has used 11 personnel on 66.1 percent of its offensive plays (203 of 307). The Vikings have used 12 personnel at the next-highest rate (53 plays; 17.3 percent), followed by 21 (29 plays; 9.4 percent).