ALLEN PARK, Mich. — No. 88 was absent from the Detroit Lions practice facility on Thursday. Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson’s 2021 season is now over.
Hockenson underwent thumb surgery Thursday morning with renowned hand-specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, and is expected to make a complete recovery in time for the offseason program, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
He suffered the hand injury during Detroit’s lone victory this season, over the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 5, where he caught four passes for 49 yards with a touchdown. After the injury, he went through limited practice for one day before being ruled out for the rest of the week, including last Sunday’s road loss to the Denver Broncos.
He leads the Lions with 61 receptions, 583 yards and four touchdown catches this season as quarterback Jared Goff’s most reliable receiving option.
The 24-year-old entered his third season with high expectations of fulfilling a bigger role in Detroit, both on and off the field.
Following his breakout second-year season, when he produced 723 yards and six touchdowns on 67 catches and was selected to his first Pro Bowl, Hockenson has experienced both highs and lows for a Lions team that is currently 1-11-1 under first-year coach Dan Campbell.
Even without Hockenson, or running back D’Andre Swift, who hasn’t played yet this month because of a shoulder injury, Goff insists that players haven’t given up on the year, despite remaining one of two teams to be underdogs in every game this season. Detroit also has the best odds of receiving the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft.
“Pride. Pride and both the name on your back and the name on the front,” Goff said of what the Lions are playing for at this point of the season. “You’re playing for both and who you are as a person and what your character is. At the same time — Dan (Campbell) kind of talked about this a couple weeks ago — but being spoiler sometimes is fun. You don’t hope you have to be that way, but that’s kind of the role we’re in now.”