Vikings’ T.J. Hockenson Opens Up About Season-Ending Knee Injury

T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings

Getty T.J. Hockenson #87 of the Minnesota Vikings.

Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson suffered a torn ACL and MCL after taking a hit to the knee from Detroit Lions safety and former teammate Kerby Joseph.

Hockenson missed the final two games of the season and an opportunity to help the Vikings secure a playoff berth. As the team returned to the facilities in Eagan to begin the offseason program, Hockenson spoke publicly for the first time since the injury.

“It’s good,” Hockenson told reporters about his recovery on April 14.

“It’s definitely been a process throughout the time, throughout these months or however long it’s been. You kind of lose track when you’re attacking each day. It’s been really good though. You kind of – you look at things a little differently. You kind of itch to get back out there and stuff. But just attacking it day by day.”

Hockenson said he has progressed through a “few phases”. He is working toward his ultimate goal of getting back on the field.

Hockenson answered honestly when asked about being ready for Week 1 of the regular season.

“I think anything is possible,” Hockenson said. “I’m definitely not going to put a timeline on just because I haven’t really looked at the whole aspect of things.”

Vikings’ T.J. Hockenson: Woud ‘Rather’ Have a Concussion

T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings

GettyT.J. Hockenson #87 of the Minnesota Vikings.

Hockenson also shared his thoughts on the fateful blow, making a bold claim regarding concussions.

“I wasn’t too happy about it,” Hockenson said. “That’s not a fun one to tell, and that’s not necessarily based on him [Joseph] as a player. I got nothing against him. I’ve played with him in Detroit, and I understand you know that’s kind of what they expect you to do in the league.

“On the same hand, I would have much rather gone down with a concussion for two weeks than have to go through this for nine months.

“That’s definitely a conversation a different conversation.

“[A concussion] puts me out two weeks three weeks. This puts me out nine months. You can’t even train. … I would have been had a normal offseason and getting ready to go for this season. I mean I know, obviously, some are worse than others. And I don’t want to go down that train uh of what’s worse, what’s better, what’s this. But I mean I’ve had a concussion. It took me a week. So I’m just looking at it from that pure time stamp and that pure timetable.

The NFL has made a concerted effort to reduce blows to the head, penalizing and fining defenders who hit outside the approved strike zone. The approved area is between a player’s shoulders and knees.

That target area often changes in size and level based on the offensive player’s movements, leaving defenders at even more of a disadvantage.

The result is often hits such as Joseph’s on Hockenson.

“You can’t cut outside the tackle box, so doesn’t really make sense why these guys are able to go as low as they are when you’re 25 yards downfield looking back at the quarterback looking and you don’t have any awareness. And then to have that happen again two weeks later I didn’t really like that.

“That’s probably the most extent I’ll say on that. But I definitely don’t think I have it against the player as much as the league putting the defense in those positions in order to have to do that.”

That second occurrence was Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee.

A low hit from Joseph sidelined him as well. The NFL did not fine Joseph either time. That only fueled the discussion in the immediate aftermath of the injury. The NFL owners voted to ban the hip-drop tackle this offseason, sparking a new wave of frustration from defensive players.

T.J. Hockenson: Low Hits Affecting Players’ ‘Livelihood’

Tyler Higbee, Minnesota Vikings

GettyTyler Higbee #89 of the Los Angeles Rams.

“It’s tough. It really is,” Hockenson said. “We’re big guys, obviously, running through the middle of the field. And this is a business, and I don’t think anybody goes out on the field wanting to injure a player like that. So I’m looking at the light of that and hoping that’s not what the intent was, to injure a player in that sense.

“I think that to have it happen a couple weeks later, I think that’s something that the league needs to look at and just see what … could they do.”

Hockenson noted that Joseph’s helmet indicates his eyes were down on both hits.

“You trust that the players are going to protect each other,” Hockenson said. “Sometimes that doesn’t happen in the heat of the game, and that’s understandable. But the fact is that you don’t want a guy coming in like, ‘Hey, I’m going to do this to this guy.’

“I hope that’s not what the case was, and I hope that’s not the case in any player. … I’m not saying that is or that isn’t. But you really want the players to protect other players. And whether it’s taught or it’s not taught from the team or from the league, you just want to be able to protect another guy. Because that’s his career, that’s his livelihood. And you don’t want to affect that in any sense. And that’s what it’s done.”

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