Vikings’ Justin Jefferson could play this week after chest injury from hard hit

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Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson avoided internal injury from the airborne hit he took while catching a pass that cut short his return to action and has a “good chance” to play this week, coach Kevin O’Connell said Monday.

After missing seven games with a hamstring strain, Jefferson was sidelined again Sunday at Las Vegas when he went high for a 15-yard completion in the second quarter and was smacked hard from the side by Raiders safety Marcus Epps.

Jefferson immediately clutched his lower back, jogged gingerly off the field for a breather and wound up in the blue medical tent for closer examination. The Vikings wound up sending him to a hospital as a precaution for further testing after what they announced as a chest injury.

Jefferson, the 2022 AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year, flew home with the team after the 3-0 victory. O’Connell said Jefferson’s status is considered day to day. The Vikings play Saturday at Cincinnati (1 p.m. ET).

“He’s doing pretty well today,” O’Connell said. “It’s just a matter of continuing to monitor any potential things that could arise, but what he’s like from a standpoint of his ability to get some preparation in throughout the week and feel comfortable and ready to go for Saturday will be determined as we go here.”

The Vikings also lost right tackle Brian O’Neill and running back Alexander Mattison to sprained ankles during the game. O’Connell said both players avoided longer-term injuries.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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