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Justin Jefferson On the Mend; Will be Ready With or Without Preseason Reps

EAGAN, Minn. — Justin Jefferson returned to practice Monday, 10 days after leaving an Aug. 6 practice early.

The injury, Jefferson said Tuesday, is to his left shoulder. And is a fairly common one, he's come to learn, mentioning that "most players" in the Vikings locker room have experienced it at one point or another.

But the 2020 Pro Bowler also noted that he feels fine physically and was amped up to get back on the field, even if he only participated in a handful of team reps in his return.

"It felt amazing. I don't really miss practice too often, so to be on the side and watching my teammates practice and just go through their daily routine is hard to watch," Jefferson said. "But it was good to be back and get back into the swing of things."

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer added: "Yeah, he's good. He feels good."

Jefferson was injured when he was competing for a pass over the middle with cornerback Bashaud Breeland. The two went to the ground, with Jefferson noting he landed on his shoulder in an "awkward placement."

At first, Jefferson said he was "a little worried" about the potential diagnosis. But those fears washed away in the next day as tests results came back favorably.

"I didn't know the status of the injury," Jefferson said. "But once we looked at the X-rays and did different tests, they said it wasn't that bad, so after that, I was good."

And despite being on the sideline, he managed to stay locked in by focusing on mental reps, being attentive in meetings and helping coach some younger players.

"Just off the injury, just getting my shoulder feeling normal, getting that strength back up and getting mental reps," Jefferson said. "Just watching my guys, teaching the younger receivers, learning what I have to do, any new plays that go in, make sure I know what's going on. And just be that teacher for the younger guys, making sure everybody's on their Ps and Qs."

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Oct. 18, 2021.

The 2020 first-round pick missed out on joint practices with the Broncos, something that pained him as he saw teammates get valuable reps against a stout defense.

"Yeah, it was difficult to watch it," Jefferson said. "I'm a competitor, so to see other teams come in and practice us and do 1-on-1s against us, I definitely wanted to jump into it.

"But I definitely understand the situation, and my health is more important," Jefferson added.

The 22-year-old said the last time he missed practice was likely in college, though he couldn't recall specifics. And while he said he does still have some soreness here and there, he appears to be on track for the regular season.

Zimmer said Tuesday that he doesn't think Jefferson will play Saturday against the Colts in Minnesota's second preseason game.

If he doesn't play then, or in the preseason finale in Kansas City on Aug. 27, how would Jefferson feel heading into Week 1?

"I didn't get any [reps] last year," Jefferson said with a smile, "so I think I'll be pretty good if I don't get any."

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