The Detroit Lions made it official on Friday, placing former Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson on injured reserve, ending his 2021 season. ESPN was the first to report that Hockenson had season-ending surgery on his thumb, and Lions head coach Dan Campbell confirmed the report on Friday morning.
“He had surgery yesterday and fixed his hand,” Campbell said. “And so yeah, obviously that will probably do him in right there. We’ll miss him, and everything went well though.”
Per the initial ESPN report, Hockenson is expected to be ready for offseason programs. Initially, Hockenson seemed to downplay the injury—which apparently occurred during the Week 13 game against the Vikings. However, according to Campbell, Hockenson sought a second opinion and decided it was best to get it taken care of as soon as possible.
“We encourage these guys to—you get it assessed, you get a second opinion, and then the player weighs the options and that’s what it comes down to,” Campbell said.
To help replace Hockenson, the Lions elevated rookie tight end Shane Zylstra from the practice squad as a reserve/COVID-19 replacement. That means he’s eligible to play on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, but he’ll remain on the practice squad after the game is over. Last week, while also elevated as a COVID-19 replacement, Zylstra played 40 offensive snaps and saw six targets come his way via Jared Goff. He caught two passes for 18 yards. Detroit will also have the services of Brock Wright at tight end for Sunday.
The Lions also announced on Friday practice squad linebacker Tavante Beckett has been removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list. He’s eligible to play on Sunday should the Lions decide to elevate him to the active roster. Hopefully, with Beckett’s and Evan Brown’s activation from the COVID list, the Lions are on the tail end of their current breakout.