EAGAN, Minn. — Justin Jefferson's status for Monday's Week 12 game against the Bears remains to be determined.
His desire to get back on the field at 100 percent, however, isn't in doubt — no matter how many strangers chirp at the phenom through social media.
Jefferson opened his fourth pro season with 36 receptions for 571 yards and three touchdowns in four-plus games before leaving Minnesota's Week 5 game against Kansas City with a hamstring injury.
He's been working his way back since. Minnesota has won five of six games to reverse its bad start and have a 6-5 record heading into its Week 12 game against Chicago (3-8), which happens to be the final game before a late-season bye.
View photos from the Vikings Classic jersey photoshoot. The Classic throwback jerseys will be worn Week 12 of the 2023 season against the Bears on Monday Night Football.
Jefferson spoke to media members on Friday, providing an update on his progress, sharing thoughts on the team and explaining why he eventually responded to people complaining that he had not yet returned to action.
"We still have more days to practice and really evaluate everything, weigh the options correctly, making sure that I'm feeling well and prepared to play a game," Jefferson said. "If I'm feeling good, I will play.
"If I miss this one, it will be my seventh game, so it's definitely frustrating," Jefferson added. "It's tough to be patient and try and make sure an injury heals properly, it's definitely not something that I want to do, but it just comes with the game, trying to be healthy, trying to be 100 percent and just [taking] the safe route."
Jefferson posted a message on X (formerly Twitter) on Nov. 21 saying he was not concerned with anyone's fantasy football team — he's since deleted his account. He was asked Friday about many people attacking him on social media.
"Y'all have no idea," said Jefferson, which generated a little laughter from media members who grew more serious as he elaborated.
"It's honestly crazy, the amount of people that really criticize you and talk very bad about you, calling you different names," Jefferson said. "You're just trying to be healthy and trying to be your best on the field. Other people have other things going on that it's a little different than your situation. At the end of the day, it is what it is. I'm more worried about my team and being healthy on the field. All that other stuff is going to come."
Regarding the critical comments, Jefferson said he was "tired of it."
"It's frustrating. It's draining to want to be out there on the field, wanting to play and all these other sources are saying different things that are not true on how you're feeling," Jefferson said. "It's a crazy situation. I'm more focused on being back on that field and playing."
As he continues to go through the course of rehab developed by Minnesota's health and performance staff, Jefferson also is still serving as a mentor to rookie receiver Jordan Addison and building a relationship with quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who was acquired by the Vikings in a trade in Week 9.
"I said it when [Addison] first came here that I wanted to take on that Adam Thielen role like he had for me. Just whatever he needs on and off the field, I'm there for him," Jefferson said. "I know that him coming to Minnesota is a different culture. He doesn't really have many people to talk to here, so I just wanted to be that teammate for him that he can call on at any time to help with either plays on the field or in life in general off the field."
As for Dobbs, Jefferson said the dual-threat quarterback has been "doing tremendous things, some things that keep you speechless."
Dobbs has helped Minnesota win two of the games he's played in and was connected to both Vikings touchdowns on Sunday. He had a remarkable debut at Atlanta when coming off the bench in relief of Jaren Hall, a rookie who had started in place of veteran Kirk Cousins.
"He's been doing a tremendous job of coming here and filling the role that we much needed to fill. He's just doing a great job," Jefferson said. "He's getting the plays ready to roll, starting to get comfortable with the plays, so I'm excited to see what he has in store for us for the rest of the season."
Jefferson scoffed once again at the notion that his timeline has been affected by wanting to have a long-term contract signed with the team.
"I don't really care too much because everyone is going to have their own opinions of what they think I'm thinking or what I'm doing, so it is what it is. At the end of the day, I know my position. I know what I'm doing, and I know it's not for the contract," Jefferson said. "I said that from the beginning of the season, that it wasn't my main priority, so my main priority at this moment is to be back on the field, playing with my teammates and to compete for a Super Bowl. That's what I'm mostly focused on. I've been saying plenty of times that the contract will come whenever it comes."