T.J. Hockenson sounds cautiously optimistic about status for Vikings 2024 season

Minnesota Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson
Minnesota Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

Minnesota Vikings fans are currently occupied with which quarterback they’ll select in the NFL Draft and whether Justin Jefferson will sign a contract extension in the coming months, but an underlying storyline coming into the season is T.J. Hockenson’s recovery from a multi-ligament knee injury.

Hockenson recently talked to reporters for the first time since he suffered a torn ACL and MCL during a game against the Detroit Lions on December 24th, and while he didn’t confirm he would be available for Week 1 next season, he didn’t completely close the door.

“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 working with Tyler and Madi and these guys, 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 myself on.”

While Hockenson believes his recovery has gone well, there’s still an uphill battle to be ready for the 2024 regular-season opener.

Who will the Minnesota Vikings turn to if T.J. Hockenson isn't ready for Week 1 in 2024

Hockenson suffered the injury on a hit by Lions safety Kerby Joseph on Christmas Eve but had to wait just over a month for the swelling to go down before having the operation on January 29th.

Hockenson also said that Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed the surgery on January 29th, said that his MCL had completely healed before the operation, leaving a “straight-forward” procedure to repair Hockenson’s ACL.

The Vikings’ training staff, led by Tyler Williams and Matt Duhamel, have also set out blocks and flown down to Nashville to help Hockenson with his rehab.

The Minnesota tight end expressed his appreciation for them on Monday as well.

“I really do give credit to the Minnesota Vikings and the training staff and the people upstairs for setting me out to be the best that I can be in these blocks and really coming up with a plan to make sure that whatever the timeline is at the end, just to make sure that these few weeks and these few blocks are attacked and set out in a standard to get me back to the best that I’ve been playing."

Hockenson caught 95 passes for 960 yards and five touchdowns for the Vikings last season and has combined for 155 catches, 1,479 yards, and eight touchdowns since joining Minnesota in a trade with Detroit midway through the 2022 season.

If Hockenson is unable to return from injury for the 2024 opener, the Vikings could elevate either Josh Oliver or Johnny Mundt to the top spot on the tight end depth chart going into next season, or the team could take out an insurance policy with depth signing in free agency or a pick in this month’s NFL Draft.

It leaves Hockenson’s recovery as a storyline to follow heading into the 2024 season.

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