Receiver Justin Jefferson started last week's loss in Baltimore with an 11-yard run and a 50-yard touchdown catch on the opening drive, but those two plays would account for half of his touches as the offense sputtered against the Ravens.

Coordinator Klint Kubiak said Thursday that coaches have to "be more conscious" of funneling the ball to their best players, days after Jefferson and receiver Adam Thielen combined for five catches for 75 yards and a touchdown in a 34-31 overtime loss in Baltimore.

"You don't want to come out of a game and Justin has those kind of targets," Kubiak said. "He's well-deserving of getting the ball more. He helps us win games, so certainly every week we want to get our playmakers the ball — him, Dalvin [Cook], Adam."

"I'm all for it," Jefferson said when informed of Kubiak's comments.

Jefferson said he'll be patient, which might be needed entering Sunday's game against a Chargers defense that ranks among the league's best in fewest passing touchdowns and big plays allowed. The outcome likely will come down to the wire, with the final minutes making the difference for both teams this season. The Vikings are 2-5 in one-score games; the Chargers are 4-2.

"We've just got to find a way to finish a game," Jefferson said. "We've just got to find a way to get over that hump. It doesn't have to be close. Just putting points on the board, not being conservative, just going up and score."

Days after Jefferson wore a "Free Odell" sweatshirt in Baltimore, he said he had spoken with Odell Beckham Jr. about his release from the Browns and wished him the best. Jefferson said he and Beckham, the fellow LSU alumnus, are "like brothers," and he lobbied him to stay away from the NFC North while picking his new team. Beckham agreed to a deal hours later with the Rams, whom the Vikings are scheduled to host Dec. 26.

"I was like, 'Look, bro, don't go to Green Bay,'" Jefferson said. "'We ain't seen them yet. We still have to see them twice. Don't go there, please.'"

No update on Dozier

It was unclear as of Thursday evening whether guard Dakota Dozier was still hospitalized after being admitting Tuesday night when he experienced trouble breathing from a COVID-19 infection. He was in stable condition as of Wednesday, according to coach Mike Zimmer. Kubiak didn't have an update Thursday.

"But he's a top-notch teammate that all these guys care really deeply about," Kubiak said. "So he's in our thoughts and in our prayers and we want to support him."

Barr iffy for Sunday; Pierce still out

Linebacker Anthony Barr missed his first Thursday practice since September because of the lingering knee injury that flared up in August. This came after Barr played all 98 snaps in the overtime loss to the Ravens. Coordinator Adam Zimmer said they need to see how Barr feels Friday before gauging whether he can play in his hometown of Los Angeles.

"We're resting him and we'll see how it goes," Zimmer said. "He's probably going to be dealing with some sort of rest throughout the rest of the season. That's probably going to be the norm."

Nose tackle Michael Pierce also remained sidelined and could miss his fifth game because of an elbow injury. Defensive end Kenny Willekes did not practice because of an illness. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland (groin) was limited.

Griffen seeing double teams

Defensive end Everson Griffen is seeing pass protection tilted his way as the 33-year-old former Pro Bowler is the Vikings' top pass rusher without Danielle Hunter. Against the Chargers, he'll face tackles Rashawn Slater and Storm Norton, the former Vikings reserve listed at 6-8 and "still sitting high," Griffen said, "so we've got to take advantage of that."

But Griffen, who has five sacks, is expecting to often see more than one blocker.

"I dealt with that earlier in my career," he said, "and I'm getting it more now, which is a good thing that they respect me. But at the end of the day, that's just something I gotta adapt to."


  • According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Vikings' Rick Spielman was one of at least five NFL general managers scheduled to be at Heinz Field on Thursday night to watch No. 25 Pittsburgh against North Carolina and top quarterback prospects Sam Howell of the Tar Heels and Kenny Pickett of the Panthers.
  • Returner Kene Nwangwu said he called his shot on the 98-yard kickoff return against the Ravens after being tackled from behind on his first attempt: "I remember right after, I was talking to [Alexander] Mattison and [C.J.] Ham, and I was like, 'The next one's going to hit.'"