Justin Jefferson unsure if he'll play on MNF (0:49)Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson discusses his frustration with missing extended time and whether he'll play on "Monday Night Football." (0:49)
EAGAN, Minn. -- It's not about his contract. Nor is it because he is trying to punish fantasy football managers who drafted him this season.
As he continued his third week of practice since the Vikings opened his window to return from injured reserve, Jefferson said he isn't sure whether he will play Monday night against the Chicago Bears. And he is as upset about it as the thousands of people who have messaged him over the past month on social media.
"If I miss this one, it's going to be the seventh game," Jefferson said, "so it's definitely frustrating, and it's tough to be patient and try to make sure that an injury heals properly. It's definitely not something I want to do, but it comes with the game, it comes with trying to be healthy, trying to be 100% and [following] the safe route."
Jefferson said his recovery has ramped up to the point that he has run some practice routes at full speed.
Asked whether he thought he would play Monday night, Jefferson said: "I'm not sure. We'll see. We still have more days to practice and really evaluate everything. We're going to weigh the options correctly, making sure that I'm feeling well and prepared to play a game, and if I'm feeling good, I will play."
Jefferson suffered the injury Oct. 8, and the Vikings placed him on injured reserve two days later. His 21-day practice window began Nov. 8, and he must be activated by Nov. 29 or he will remain on injured reserve for the rest of the season.
He is expected to return at some point, but Jefferson and the team long ago agreed on a methodical pace with a goal of holding him out until he is 100% recovered. Jefferson was again listed as limited Friday on the Vikings' injury report and has not had any full practices since his window opened.
Earlier this week, coach Kevin O'Connell acknowledged the possibility that Jefferson will miss Monday's game, giving him an extra week of recovery during the Vikings' Week 13 bye. Under that timetable, he would return in Week 14 at the Las Vegas Raiders.
That pace has left fans increasingly impatient, and Jefferson posted earlier this week on X that his health is more important than fantasy football. He said Friday that "everyone doesn't heal the same or heal as quickly as other people" and added: "It's crazy the amount of people that really criticize you and talk very, very bad about you, calling you different names, on you just trying to be healthy and you just trying to be your best on the field."
Asked how heavy the volume has been of social media criticism, Jefferson said, "Y'all have no idea."
"I'm just tired of it," he said. "It's just frustrating, and it's draining to want to be out there on the field, wanting to play, and all of these other sources saying different things that are not true on how you're feeling. It's a crazy situation. It is what it is. But I'm more focused on being back on that field and playing; the rest is going to come with it."
Jefferson appeared to step away from social media following the backlash, as his X and Instagram accounts were both listed as unavailable as of Friday afternoon.
He has also heard theories that he is slow-playing his return after he and the Vikings failed to agree on a contract extension this summer.
"I don't really care too much," he said, "just 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. I know my position. I know what I'm doing. And I know it's not for the contract. It's not for the contract at all."