Latest on T.J. Hockenson is encouraging for 2024 status with Vikings

Minnesota Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson
Minnesota Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson / David Berding/GettyImages

The Minnesota Vikings answered several questions during last weekend’s NFL Draft but one that remains is the status of tight end T.J. Hockenson.

Hockenson’s availability for the 2024 regular-season opener is up in the air after suffering a multi-ligament knee injury last December.

The good news is that The Athletic’s Alec Lewis recently shared the following about Hockenson being ahead of schedule in his recovery from the injury, but he also cautioned that the Vikings aren’t going to rush the tight end back if he isn’t ready.

“Hockenson is ahead of schedule in his rehab, but the Vikings are committed to ensuring he is fully healthy before he plays. Last year’s contract cemented the team’s belief that he is one of its cornerstone players. You don’t rush a player like that back from an injury this severe.”

Will the Minnesota Vikings have T.J. Hockenson on the field for Week 1 of the 2024 season?

Hockenson was injured in a loss to the Detroit Lions on Christmas Eve when he took a hit from Lions safety Kerby Joseph. Hockenson suffered a torn ACL and MCL as a result of the hit, and his surgery was delayed into late January while rehabbing his MCL and waiting for the swelling in his knee to go down.

Speaking to reporters last month, Hockenson was cautiously optimistic about his recovery but didn’t completely close the door on being ready for the start of the 2024 season.

“I think anything is possible, obviously. I’m definitely not going to put a timeline on it just because I haven’t really looked at the whole aspect of things. These guys have done a really good job. We have a really good training staff here, and…they’ve done a really good job with the plan so far and laying out blocks, and that’s kind of what I’ve been focusing on.”

If Hockenson isn’t ready, it could leave the Vikings without a major piece of their offense. Since being traded to Minnesota in November 2022, Hockenson is tied for second among tight ends with 155 receptions and 1,479 yards and eighth with eight touchdowns.

Hockenson also was rewarded for his performance, signing a four-year, $66 million contract with $40.2 million guaranteed prior to the start of last season.

But while Lewis believes the Vikings are willing to play the conservative route, there are signs of optimism. Minnesota did not take a tight end during last weekend’s draft, and Lewis expects Josh Oliver and Johnny Mundt to fill in if Hockenson misses the first couple of weeks.

The Vikings also have Nick Muse, a seventh-round pick in the 2022 draft who has spent the past two years alternating between the active roster and the practice squad.

Regardless of their depth, Hockenson’s recovery will be a major topic heading into next season, and it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to hit the field in Week 1.

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