Vikings WR Justin Jefferson draws closer to return from injury

Minnesota Vikings star wide receiver Justin Jefferson is trending toward making his return to the lineup from a hamstring injury this Sunday at Denver.

Jefferson was a limited participant at practice Thursday for the second straight day.

Minnesota opened Jefferson’s 21-day window to return from injured reserve last week. Jefferson, who has not played since Oct. 8, said then that he wouldn’t return to the field until he felt 100 percent, and he underscored that stance in comments Thursday.

“Well, I’m the main person who’s gonna make the decision,” Jefferson told reporters. “At the end of the day, I’m the person that’s going out there running, putting my body on the line to win games.”

Jefferson, 24, suffered the hamstring injury during a Week 5 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He has 36 catches for 571 yards and three TDs this season.

He said he is working on building up his endurance day by day, hoping for minimal soreness in the hamstring as he increases what he does at practice. Jefferson had previously explained that hamstring injuries can linger, “and it comes back from time to time if you don’t put the right treatment into it.”

The Vikings (6-4) have won five straight and are 2-0 since Joshua Dobbs took over at quarterback following injuries to Kirk Cousins and rookie Jaren Hall. They are just 1 1/2 games behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North race.

Coach Kevin O’Connell said Wednesday that his star wideout was in “that day-to-day, ramping-him-up phase,” and the team would determine whether he could be activated in time for the Broncos game.

“I know how I feel. I know how my hamstring is feeling,” Jefferson said. “Of course, we’re going to weigh all the different opinions and what everyone has to say. But at the end of the day, I’m the one that’s going out there and putting my body on the line.”

Dobbs is on the team’s injury report with an ankle issue but practiced in full Wednesday and Thursday. Cornerback Akayleb Evans (calf) missed practice for the second straight day. Tight end T.J. Hockenson (ribs) and running back Alexander Mattison (concussion) were limited.