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Justin Jefferson Ready for Return at Raiders After 'Jet' Alters Flight Plan for 2023

EAGAN, Minn. — "Jet" is back on the runway and cleared for takeoff.

Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson is returning to action this Sunday when Minnesota (6-6) visits Las Vegas (5-7) in the Week 14 game.

The three-time Pro Bowler has been rehabbing a hamstring injury he suffered in Week 5 against Kansas City that sidelined him for two-plus months of game action as the receiver and Minnesota made cautious decisions with an eye on finishing the season strong after the team's Week 13 bye.

Jefferson was leading the NFL in receiving yards through Minnesota's first four games of his first four seasons, and in position to take a legitimate run at the league's single-season record (1,964 by Calvin Johnson). The trajectory of what Jefferson's final numbers look like will change, but team goals remain important.

"Shoot, we're trying to get to a playoff and a Super Bowl," Jefferson said. "The individual stats are not there for me this year, but it's more about winning for the team, doing things to help our team. I had to do the sideline adjustment, but it's more about getting on the field and helping this team out any way I can."

Jefferson's resumption of his production — he has 36 catches for 571 yards and three scores through four-plus games — of course is likely to positively impact a Vikings squad that will be starting Joshua Dobbs, who was acquired via trade on Oct. 31, two days after Kirk Cousins was lost for the season.

A whopping 98.9 percent of Jefferson's career receiving yards (5,348 out of 5,396) have been totaled on passes thrown by Cousins. Sean Mannion accounted for the other 58 yards on six completions in Week 17 of the 2021 season at Green Bay.

Jefferson has been working on his connections with Dobbs as his workload in practices has ramped up, and he's also maintained his friendship with Cousins through their time in the training room (their lockers at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center are adjacent, as well).

"On the field and in the film room, just going over different plays with [Dobbs], going over the timing of everything like we did with Kirk and trying to find that connection that we can use for Sunday," Jefferson said. "It's been a pleasure working with him and learning things I can learn from him and things he can learn from me. It will be better for us when we go out on the field.

"I talk to [Cousins] every single day," Jefferson added. "Every day he's in that training room, trying to get back to where he was before, so to see his spirits and that Kirk is never different from where he normally is, he still has that high energy, funny jokes, dad jokes that he always does. Having that same type of mindset as he had before. It's definitely a good feeling to see your starting quarterback in the building and still having that same happy vibe he always has."

They both leaned on each other in finding themselves in the training room rehabbing serious injuries for the first time in each of their respective careers. Jefferson said he missed a little more time in high school because of an elbow injury than this time, but that was before he was even on the varsity squad.

So this time around has been a "terrible feeling, just feeling hopelessness for not being on the field." He admitted to complaining about spending so much time in the training room but also said he appreciated the guidance and work from the health and performance staff.

"They hated that I said that, but they know I just want to be back on the training room," Jefferson said. "Kudos to them for doing a fantastic job with me through this whole process, knowing when I feel good and don't feel good and knowing when to push things. Kudos to them, for sure."