T.J. Hockenson Did the Thing

The Vikings 2022 Offense by the Numbers: After Week 11
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Justin Jefferson wasn’t there, but T.J. Hockenson showed up.

T.J. Hockenson Did the Thing

That’s the word from Minnesota Vikings organized team activities (OTAs) that continue through the end of May, with the franchise just two weeks from mandatory minicamp.

T.J. Hockenson
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Hockenson is recovering from a torn ACL, and though not wholly obligated, the veteran playmaker attended OTAs this week. The Athletic‘s Alec Lewis tweeted Tuesday, “Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson, who is still rehabbing from the ACL/MCL tear, was present today at OTAs. Definitely didn’t have to be there, but thought it was cool he was out there, supporting Sam Darnold, high-fiving J.J. McCarthy, etc.”

Most don’t expect Hockenson to be ready for the regular season — 110 days away — but the man is at OTAs, presumably enhancing the team’s culture and supporting the newcomers. Between free agency, the 2024 NFL Draft, and undrafted free agents, the Vikings have about 40 new faces.

T.J. Hockenson
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Hockenson was injured in December by Detroit Lions defender Kerby Joseph, a former teammate of Hockenson’s, ending his 2023 campaign and probably jeopardizing the beginning of this year’s hurrah.

The veteran tight end said via NFL.com about his recovery last week, “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 added, “I’m doing really good right now. We’re attacking each process. I’m attacking each one and it’s been awesome, the progression has been incredible.”

Timing Unfortunate
Tight end T. Hockenson, left, and Minnesota 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

Many Vikings fans have prepared for a Hockenson-less start to 2024, and that outcome might actually bleed further into the season than most realize. Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling opined on the topic this week, 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 last week.

a New Wrinkle
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The theory would plop back Hockenson into action Week 7 at home versus the Detroit Lions. And if Minnesota’s season starts poorly, that game could be circled for the start of the J.J. McCarthy era — in theory. If the Goessling hypothesis is accurate, Hockenson will be dearly missed, and Minnesota will fill his aerial targets with an assortment of Josh Oliver, Robert Tonyan, and Johnny Mundt.

Whether injured or healthy, Hockenson has been busy this offseason. He attended the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Game 6 win at Target Center last week.

As a stand-in actor portraying Steve Jobs, Hockenson revealed Minnesota’s 2024 schedule:

And he morphed into a cheerleader after the aforementioned Timberwolves chipped off the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night:

And now he’s with his teammates in Eagan despite the ACL tear.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.