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Kevin O'Connell 'encouraged about early news' on Justin Jefferson injury

A sigh of relief for the Vikings, whose star player may have avoided a significant injury.
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Justin Jefferson's injury scare doesn't appear to be significant, according to Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell. 

The second-year coach spoke after Minnesota's 3-0 win over the Raiders on Sunday, saying Jefferson was taken to a hospital after taking a big hit during the second quarter of the game. He suffered a chest injury, specifics of which haven't been revealed, though O'Connell said the trip to the hospital to ensure he didn't suffer potentially serious internal injuries. 

"We wanted to rule out any potential complications from that so he did go to a local hospital and get evaluated and he has since returned and he will travel home with us," O'Connell said. "Feel pretty encouraged about the early news on Justin, now we'll have to see on a short week how he's able to turn over from this."

Asked if Jefferson's ribs were X-rayed, O'Connell replied: 

"I don't know all of it. I do know he received X-rays and I'm not entirely sure that it has anything to do with his ribs. I was just told kind of chest, internal. Making darn sure that we had kind of ruled out anything serious. I thought [the training staff and doctors] did a great job doing what they should in the moment, which is making sure we avoid potentially some very serious things there. Like I said, as far as I'm concerned, what I've been told, we look like we avoided any significant thing there. Now we'll see where he's at. Able to fly home with us, get him some treatment and see where he's at for his availability for next week."

Jefferson was injured when he caught a third-down pass from Josh Dobbs. He absorbed the blow and held onto the ball for a 15-yard gain and a first down. It was his second catch of the game as he played for the first time since suffering a strained hamstring Oct. 5 against the Chiefs.

As short-lived as his return from a two-month absence was, his next return from injury could come much quicker as the Vikings (7-6) fight with the Lions and Packer in the NFC North all while scoreboard watching the five teams that are 6-7 and jockeying for wild-card position with Minnesota. 

"Incredibly, incredibly disappointed for him. Just knowing how much it meant to him to get out on the field and you could see on the play that even happened on, high throw over the middle and critical third-down play and he goes and makes the play. That's Justin Jefferson right there," O'Connell said. "Justin means the world to this team and we were excited to play him."

We'll wrap our arms around Justin. Thankfully, he was evaluated for some things and he was able to make it back here and he'll travel home with us," O'Connell added. 

Justin Jefferson

Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) warms up before a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium.