Wide receiver Justin Jefferson was cleared to return to the Vikings on Tuesday after missing two months with a hamstring injury. Rusty Jones/Associated Press

Minnesota Vikings All-Pro wide receiver Justin Jefferson was activated from injured reserve on Tuesday, clearing him to return to action after he missed two months with a hamstring injury.

Minnesota began its bye week after a 12-10 loss to Chicago on Monday, but Jefferson will be back on the field when the Vikings (6-6) play at Las Vegas on Dec. 10. He missed the past seven games.

Jefferson, the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2022, was hurt in Week 5 against Kansas City, causing the first absence of his four-year career. He has 36 catches for 571 yards and three touchdowns this season.

“Justin was close to having a chance of going last night, but the best thing for him and for our team moving forward was to get through the bye and ultimately have him at 100% coming out of the bye as we take on the Raiders on the road,” Vikings Coach Kevin O’Connell said.

Jefferson returned to practice on Nov. 8 and said last week he was reaching “top speeds.” But the Vikings opted to give Jefferson one more game and the bye to fully heal. If Jefferson weren’t activated this week for some reason, he would have been ineligible to return this season.

The Vikings waived wide receiver N’Keal Harry to make room on the roster on Tuesday and also released quarterback Sean Mannion from the practice squad.


COLTS: Running back Jonathan Taylor will have thumb surgery Wednesday and hopes to play again in about three weeks, a person with knowledge of the injury told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the team has not yet made a formal announcement.

Taylor apparently was injured during Sunday’s 27-20 victory over Tampa Bay. It’s unclear when he was hurt, though, because when he slid down on the last of his 15 carries after picking up the first down, Indy (6-5) ran out the clock. Taylor finished with 91 yards and a season-high two touchdowns.

After the game, Coach Shane Steichen said the Colts avoided any major injuries during the game. Steichen and Indy’s players were not available Tuesday when they are typically off.

It’s been a rocky season for Taylor, the 2021 NFL rushing champ who started training camp on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing offseason ankle surgery. He remained on PUP for the first four games of the regular season.

DOLPHINS: Miami signed veteran pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul to add depth to its defense, which recently lost standout linebacker Jaelan Phillips to a season-ending Achilles tendon tear.


Pierre-Paul, a South Florida native, was previously on the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad. He was drafted in the first round by the New York Giants in 2010 and spent eight seasons there. He’s also had stints with Tampa Bay (2018-2021) and Baltimore (2022).

He has 94 1/2 sacks in 14 seasons, which ranks seventh among all active NFL players. He won a Super Bowl with the Giants in 2011 and with Tampa Bay in 2020.

Phillips tore his Achilles tendon in the fourth quarter of a 34-13 win over the New York Jets on Black Friday, and the team placed him on injured reserve Tuesday afternoon.

Coach Mike McDaniel said it will be hard to replicate Phillips’ production — he had 43 tackles, 6 1/2 sacks, one interception and two passes defensed in eight games this season — but he is confident in some of the depth the Dolphins have.

Hall of Fame Nominees Football

Julius Peppers, a three-time All Pro, is one of nine first-year eligible players to be named a semifinalist for the 2024 Pro Football Hall of Fame class. Bob Leverone/Associated Press

HALL OF FAME: Three-time All-Pros Julius Peppers and Antonio Gates were chosen as semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2024 in their first year of eligibility.

Peppers and Gates headline a group of 25 modern day semifinalists announced by the Hall of Fame from a group of 173 nominees announced in September. The only other player who advanced to the semifinal stage for the first time was running back Tiki Barber.


Eight players who made it to the final stage of 15 in the class of 2023 return as semifinalists this year with Jared Allen, Dwight Freeney, Devin Hester, Andre Johnson, Torry Holt, Patrick Willis, Willie Anderson and Darren Woodson all looking to get in after falling short a year ago.

The other semifinalists are Eric Allen, Anquan Boldin, Jahri Evans, London Fletcher, Eddie George, James Harrison, Rodney Harrison, Robert Mathis, Steve Smith Sr., Fred Taylor, Hines Ward, Ricky Watters, Reggie Wayne and Vince Wilfork.

The 25 semifinalists will be reduced to 15 finalists before the final voting process in January. The 15 finalists will be trimmed to 10 and then five during the selection meeting early next year. The final five candidates will need to get 80% of the votes from the panel to get into the Hall.

PANTHERS: Owner David Tepper defended his perceived lack of patience after firing head coach Frank Reich 11 games into his first season, and the team’s decision to draft Bryce Young No. 1 overall.

Reich became the third head coach to be fired midseason by Tepper since he purchased the team in 2018 for a then-NFL record $2.275 billion.

Tepper previously fired Ron Rivera after a 5-7 start in 2019 and Matt Rhule after going 1-4 last season. Tepper gave no direct explanation for the decision to terminate Reich’s contract, telling reporters they can draw their own conclusion.

“I do have patience. My reputation away from this game is one of extreme patience,” said Tepper, a multibillionaire hedge fund owner. “There’s no reason why that doesn’t come here, too. Now, that patience comes with good performance and wanting to see progress made in different aspects.

“I would like to have someone (coach) here for 20 or 30 years. I would like to have somebody that would say my eulogy in 30 years,” Tepper added.

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