T.J. Hockenson Timing Unfortunate for Minnesota

Tight End
Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports.

When Kerby Joseph blew out T.J. Hockenson’s ligaments with a hit to his knee, it was immediately apparent that the injury was going to be serious.

T.J. Hockenson Timing Unfortunate for Minnesota

Ultimately, he suffered an MCL issue with an ACL tear. Needing to wait for the swelling to subside prior to going under the knife, the Vikings tight end is now on a less-than-ideal schedule.

Playing against the Detroit Lions on Christmas Eve, Minnesota found themselves up against the Grinch reincarnate. Safety Kerby Joseph has come under fire for dirty hits for some time now, and that weekend, his victim would be Minnesota’s T.J. Hockenson. Tackling low, right at his knee, Joseph buckled the Vikings tight end into a heap on the field. By the ensuing Tuesday, head coach Kevin O’Connell had announced that the pass catcher’s season was over, and injuries to both his MCL and ACL had been sustained.

Timing Unfortunate
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

As is customary in these knee ligament situations, a significant surgery is needed to correct the issue. A common problem, though, is that you must wait for a level of healing to take place before operating. That healing required multiple weeks of waiting, and it wasn’t until Monday, January 29, that he had the successful ACL surgery performed.

Training camp prior to the 2024 NFL season will open roughly six months from now, and at that point, Hockenson won’t be ready to resume all football activities. An eight-month timeframe is even a bit aggressive, putting him on track to return in late September. It’s probably more likely he returns around midseason, meaning Minnesota will be in a suboptimal spot for a good portion of the year.

Hockenson Will End
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Whether it is Kirk Cousins or someone else under center, the wide receivers are set atop the depth chart with Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison. Even if a rookie quarterback got the nod in 2024, the youngster would be set up to succeed.

Beyond that, there is a hole at the WR3 position, and now having a massive amount of production to replace at the tight end position is a tough pill to swallow. It’s not as though Hockenson won’t be back eventually, but playing without him for so long and having limited resources is difficult to navigate.

Hockenson Chatter
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s unfortunate that Joseph went undisciplined for the hit and then continued to perform similar acts against tight ends Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce. The safety caused serious setbacks for the competition while experiencing nothing to dissuade him from repeating the same mistakes. That won’t matter to Minnesota in 2024, though, and they’ll have to figure out a way forward without one of their best players.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.