There’s a T.J. Hockenson Update

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports.

Most Minnesota Vikings fans are totally transfixed on the 2024 NFL Draft, which is 27 days away, so much so that not much matters besides the club’s choice in Round 1 of the event.

There’s a T.J. Hockenson Update

Almost quietly, though, a T.J. Hockenson update wiggled out of this week, and it just so happens to be good news.

Hockenson Update
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Hockenson tore his ACL in December against the Detroit Lions, ending his otherwise remarkable second act in purple. Notorious Lions safety Kerby Joseph hit Hockenson low, finishing his 2023 campaign and probably jeopardizing the beginning of the 2024 regular season. The same Lions defender ended Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee’s season two weeks later with a similar hit. Higbee is in the same recovery boat as Hockenson.

Fast forward to March, and Hockenson is already hitting the weight room. It’s true. It’s damn true.

Of course, this doesn’t mean Hockenson will be ready for Week 1 of 2024, but no video of the man working out eight weeks removed from his ACL surgery can be bad. The richest tight end in the sport is well on his road to recovery.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

After the injury, all things Hockenson turned to a recovery timeline, and the 26-year-old had knee surgery in January. But now the question about his return is more nuanced. Not only are Vikings fans wondering about his back-on-the-field date — it’s a matter of whether Hockenson hits the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start the season.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert wrote on February 8th, “Hockenson, a fixture at one of the most important positions in the Vikings’ offensive scheme, tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee Dec. 24. In conjunction with the team’s medical staff, he delayed surgery for 36 days while the MCL healed. Dr. Neal ElAttrache repaired his ACL on Jan. 29. Multiple sources told ESPN there have been no complications from the surgery, but emphasized the typical recovery from the type of injury he suffered is nine months.”

The Worst Confirmed
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Hockenson was on the brink of becoming the Vikings’ first 1,000+ yard tight end in 42 years before the knee injury. Joe Senser achieved the mark in 1981, and Hockenson fell 40 yards short. When wide receiver Justin Jefferson was injured for seven games in October and November, Hockenson was often the glue that kept the offense together.

Minnesota received Hockenson, a 2023 fourth-round pick (Jay Ward), and a 2024 fourth-round pick in a trade with the Lions in 2022 while giving up a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 third-rounder. Ironically, Hockenson’s old team knocked him down for the count.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Despite the encouraging news from his workout video, if Hockenson isn’t ready for Week 1, Minnesota would lean on last year’s TEs — Josh Oliver, Johnny Mundt, and Nick Muse — early in 2024. Mundt and Muse were re-signed during free agency, and Oliver is under contract through the end of 2025.

Minnesota could also use mid-to-late-round draft capital on a tight end at the end of the month.

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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