Surprise Player Earns “Most Underappreciated” Label for Vikings

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Josh Metellus? Brian O’Neill? How about Harrison Phillips? Nope. None of those men fit the criteria, says CBS Sports.

Surprise Player Earns “Most Underappreciated” Label for Vikings

Jeff Kerr sized up each NFL team’s “most underappreciated” player this week, and tight end T.J. Hockenson got the nod for the Minnesota Vikings.

most underappreciated
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Hockenson joined the Vikings’ roster in 2022 via trade with the Detroit Lions, redefining the purple offense from the moment he arrived. In fact, Hockenson’s 155 receptions in his first 25 games with the Vikings is the most by a tight end in as many games with a new franchise in the last 50 years.

CBS Sports, nevertheless, deemed the man underappreciated this week, and Kerr explained, “The Vikings are going to miss Hockenson if he misses the start of the season recovering from his ACL injury. There is no timetable for Hockenson’s return, as Minnesota will have to find a way to replace one of the top pass-catching tight ends in the game.”

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If Hockenson is not ready for the start of the 2024 season — most believe he will miss at least the first month or so — the franchise would likely call on Robert Tonyan, Josh Oliver, or Johnny Mundt for TE1 duty. That will be determined at training camp in two weeks and the preseason in August.

“Minnesota knows how valuable Hockenson is to the offense, as he finished with a career-high 95 catches for 960 yards in 2023. Only Hockenson and Travis Kelce have finished with 80+ catches and 900+ receiving yards in each of the last two seasons, adding even more importance as a pass catcher in the Vikings offense,” Kerr continued. “The Vikings need Hockenson back if they are going to compete for the NFC North in 2024, and help J.J. McCarthy’s development in the process.”

t.j. hockenson
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Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling opined on Hockenson’s injury recovery in May, preparing the masses for a post-Week 6 return.

“Because I would imagine T.J. Hockenson is on the PUP list through 6 weeks. Week 6 bye is conveniently timed here. And then, oh, look who’s on the schedule Week 7. Lions. His old buddy, Kerby Joseph,” Goessling mused on the Access Vikings podcast a couple of months ago.

Hockenson personally said via about his recovery on May 16th, “They haven’t really put a timeline on it. We’re just kinda taking it day by day, week by week, there’s just so many variables that you can go through in this process.”

Hockenson Will End
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Regarding the underappreciated status, well, to each their own. Vikings fans, on the whole, seem to appreciate Hockenson to the utmost, and his presence on the team doesn’t really fly under the radar. Kerr evidently believes his impact cannot be overstated.

The Vikings’ regular season gets underway in 65 days.

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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