The T.J. Hockenson Injury Update Is Brutal

t.j. Hockenson
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The Minnesota Vikings’ 2023 season endured a perhaps fatal blow on Sunday afternoon, losing 30-24 to the division-champion Detroit Lions.

And that wasn’t the only awful tidbit from Week 16 and, in fact, might pale in comparison to T.J. Hockenson’s outlook.

The T.J. Hockenson Injury Update Is Brutal

Sources tell VikingsTerritory that Hockenson tore his ACL versus the Lions and won’t return in 2023. There’s also initial concern about his MCL, which could extend his recovery into the 2024 season if the worst is confirmed.

Syndication: The Enquirer
Tight end T.J. Hockenson, left, and the Minnesota Vikings prepare to take the field prior to a game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati. © Kareem Elgazzar / USA TODAY NETWORK. Credit: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Hockenson was on the cusp of becoming the Vikings’ first 1,000+ yard tight end in 32 years. Joe Senser achieved the mark in 1981, and Hockenson will presumably fall 40 yards short. When wide receiver Justin Jefferson was injured for seven games in October and November, Hockenson was often the glue holding the offense together.

With the 26-year-old out, Minnesota will turn to TE2 Josh Oliver, who grabbed a handsome contract during free agency nine months ago.

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Here’s the hit that ended Hockenson’s 2023 campaign:

The Vikings also suffered injuries to Jordan Addison (WR), D.J. Wonnum (OLB), and Mekhi Blackmon (CB) versus Detroit, but updates were unavailable on those players’ statuses at the time of this article’s publication.

Minnesota received Hockenson, a 2023 fourth-round pick (Jay Ward), and a 2024 fourth-round pick in a trade with the Lions last season while giving up a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 third-rounder. So, yes, Hockenson was injured by the team that drafted him.

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Hockenson signed a four-year, $66 million extension before the start of the season, tabbing the Iowa alumnus as the highest-paid TE in NFL history. That deal could be topped this offseason, but at the moment, Hockenson is the richest of them all at his position.

Meanwhile, Minnesota has lost several other players for the season in 2023, including Kirk Cousins (QB), Cam Akers (RB), Dean Lowry (DT), Oli Udoh (OT), and James Lynch (DL). Outside linebacker Marcus Davenport’s injury status is also up in the air as of December 24th.

Only 2 Options
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Vikings fans will hope for the best regarding Hockenson’s recovery, but his return may not be an open-and-closed case of “be back in time for the start of 2024.” The first step will be to learn his recovery timetable as a baseline. His return to action won’t be an expedited deal like Aaron Rodgers’ charade, for example.

Minnesota has a 27% chance of reaching the postseason after losing to the Lions and must win its next two games while hoping the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks lose a single game — just one — between them.

Hockenson will turn 27 in July.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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