The long awaited return of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson was short-lived on Sunday when the star wideout was briefly hospitalized with what head coach Kevin O’Connell called an “internal chest injury.”
Jefferson, who made his return against the Las Vegas Raiders after being sidelined with a hamstring injury since Week 4, took a hard hit from safety Marcus Epps while going up for a catch in the first half of the Vikings 3-0 victory.
“It was a tough day from that standpoint,” O’Connell told reporters of the injuries, adding that Jefferson sustained an “internal chest injury.”
“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 he felt “encouraged” by the early evaluation, but they will have to see what this means for his availability in a short week with a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday.
“I thought the doctors did a great job of doing what they should in the moment, which is making sure we avoid some potentially serious things,” O’Connell added. “From what I’ve been told, it looks like we avoided any significant thing there.”
Before exiting the game, Jefferson hauled in two catches for 27 yards, which moved him past Randy Moss for the most receiving yards by a Vikings player in his first four seasons (5,423 yards).
Sunday’s game was the first 3-0 finish since 2007. The only points on the board came from Greg Joseph’s 36-yard field goal with under two minutes remaining in the contest.
Joshua Dobbs was also benched halfway through the fourth quarter for backup Nick Mullens. He finished 9 of 13 for 83 yards.
“You never know when your name is going to be called, but you prepare and work as hard as you can and trust that there’s a plan out there for you,” Mullens said after the game. “I did that, stepped in. The guys did an incredible job.”
After naming Dobbs a starter last week following Minnesota’s bye, O’Connell declined to say who would be starting on Saturday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.