Justin Jefferson participated in his first Vikings practice on Thursday since straining his right hamstring on Oct. 8. The receiver said he will continue with a deliberate plan to make sure he's 100% recovered and at a low risk of reinjuring his hamstring before he returns to a game.

To the 2022 NFL offensive player of the year, the idea of sitting out the rest of the season with the injury was never a consideration, though.

Jefferson called it a "no-brainer" he would return this season, dismissing the notion he would skip the remainder of the season with the injury. The Vikings broke off contract extension talks with the receiver on Sept. 9, and will resume discussions about a long-term deal with him after the season. But Jefferson said Thursday the notion he would miss games wasn't compatible with a lofty set of long-term goals.

"I'm always going to want to play football, whether we didn't win a game or whether we have won every single game this season," he said. "I love the game of football. I always say that I want to be a Hall of Famer, so I can't just sit out missing games for the fun of, just because we're not doing well. I know that I have a big role on this team, and every chance I get to be on that field, I want to make the most of those opportunities."

The Vikings have until Nov. 29 to put Jefferson back on the active roster after opening his 21-day window on Wednesday. Their bye is on Dec. 3; they could effectively keep him off the active roster until their Dec. 10 game against the Raiders in Las Vegas, or make him inactive for games even if he returns to the active roster by then. Jefferson said he didn't want to return until he was certain his hamstring was completely healed.

"It's just all about how I'm feeling and how strong the hamstring is," Jefferson said. "The hamstring is a difficult injury just because it lingers, and it comes back from time to time if you don't put the right treatment into it. So the guys on the rest of the coaching staff in this building know my worth on the field, and they want me 100 percent — as I do, as well. I don't want to go out there 80, 90 percent and have the chance of hurting it again. It's just day-to-day, like I said, and when that time comes, I'll definitely be ready to step out on that field."

He was injured in the fourth quarter of the Vikings' loss to the Chiefs on Oct. 8, when he cut on a route near the goal line and slipped on the U.S. Bank Stadium turf, after Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce sprained his ankle on the turf the same day. The Vikings' stadium is one of three left in the NFL that uses slit-film turf (along with Indianapolis and Cincinnati). The playing surface, as well as the two turf fields at the Vikings' practice facility in Eagan, is scheduled to be replaced after the season. The team could consider a monofilament surface similar to the one the Lions put in at Ford Field after last season.

"It was a freak accident," Jefferson said. "I felt pretty good going into the game. I didn't really have any hamstring problems; a little tightness, but not really something to be worried about. It just happened. Bad timing, bad positioning. I also have to look at my technique, also. Just having my feet under me, and not getting into those types of situations. [The turf] could have had a slight issue, but I'm not going to blame it on turf."

After Sunday, the Vikings have three remaining home games, and will play on a slit-film field in Cincinnati against the Bengals in December. Asked Thursday if he had any trepidation about playing on a slit-film surface again after the injury, Jefferson said: "It is what it is. Every team is not going to have the perfect surface, and that just goes back to me seeing I need to be 100 percent when I step out on that field. I don't want to have any doubts in my mind that it's going to come back, or it's going to continue to linger throughout the season. I feel like that's the main objective is to get it 100 percent, and making it feel 100 percent good."

Jefferson said he had one stretch in high school where he was out for a bit longer than his current absence, but this is the first time he's missed any games in the NFL. He has been on the sideline with the Vikings all four games, and figures to watch them from the sideline at U.S. Bank Stadium against his hometown Saints on Sunday.

"It's me being me," he said. "I don't think anyone can really tell me to be a certain type of person. I'm going to be that type of person or not. That's just who am. I love the game of football. I love being around football. Just being there as a leader, as a captain of the team. Of course, I know how hard it is, in that type of situation, in the game, in the moment. So as much as I can, I want to give them that encouragement, that extra word, before they go out there."