TJ Hockenson Questionable to Return for Start of 2024 Vikings Season

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
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The bad news became official on Tuesday, when Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell announced during his early-week press conference that TJ Hockenson tore both his ACL and MCL vs the Detroit Lions, when he was taken out at the knees by Lions CB Kirby Joseph, while making a catch over the middle of the field.

TJ Hockenson may not be ready by start of 2024 season

Wednesday morning, Dr. David J. Chao (better known as @ProFootballDoc on Twitter) had more bad news for the Vikings fanbase. Hockenson will have to wait 2-4 weeks before he can have surgery, given his rare direct contact ACL/MCL injury.

That will delay an already extensive timeline for TJ’s recovery, meaning it’s very plausibly he isn’t ready by the start of next season.

“Let’s talk TJ Hockenson. Really bad news… the vast majority of ACL tears are non-contact 75-80% are non-contact. [Hockenson’s] is from direct contact. ACL and MCL…”

“He’s likely to wait [2-4 weeks] before surgery, further delaying his timeline. His season is done [and the] start of 2024 is in jeopardy…”

“He should be able to have a full recovery, but it might be later than the start of the 2024 season.”

Dr. David J. Chao – @ProFootballDoc

Related: Justin Jefferson Talks About How Much Vikings Miss Kirk Cousins

Bad news for Hock, 2024 Minnesota Vikings

This is bad news for TJ Hockenson and the Minnesota Vikings. Remember, TJ dealt with injuries and contract negotiations that kept him out of contact drills and preseason games during training camp, and it affected his start to the 2023 season.

If Hock’s recovery from a much more serious injury takes him all the way into the regular season, what version of TJ are we going to get? I’m hopeful, but I’d ultimately be surprised if it’s the All-Pro version they got for most of 2023, after his slow start.

Blame the turf?

The Minnesota Vikings are replacing the turf that is currently installed at U.S. Bank Stadium and one of the reasons they cited for bringing in the new fake grass is player safety. The split-seam turf currently installed is not recommended by the NFLPA and the Pro Football Doc says injuries like TJ’s are why.

“His foot gets stuck, he doesn’t escape. Could this one be blamed on artificial grass, versus regular grass, where it might have given way [on regular grass]? You could have that discussion and point of view. No one knows for sure.”

Dr. David J. Chao – @ProFootballDoc

Related: Vikings Thinking Seriously About Starting Jaren Hall Over Nick Mullens vs Packers

There’s no way to know if the result from the above hit would have been any different on grass but, according to Dr. Chao, the NFLPA points to hits like this and says that real grass would have given way before the tendons in Hockenson’s knee.

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