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Detroit Lions still mulling over decision to activate rookie QB Hendon Hooker

A decision on Hendon Hooker’s 2023 season needs to be made next week and the Lions are keeping their options open.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

On Thursday, Detroit Lions rookie quarterback Hendon Hooker wrapped up his third straight week of practice. It’s unclear right now, but there’s a possibility it will be his last of the season.

After rehabbing from a torn ACL last year, the Lions finally returned him to practice on November 29—starting his 21-day evaluation period. That time range will expire on Wednesday, December 20 (the Lions’ next scheduled practice) and at that time, the Lions will have to decide whether to put Hooker on the active 53-man roster or send him back to the reserve/Non-Football Injury list. If they choose the latter, Hooker will not be permitted to have any on-field practice time for the rest of the 2023 season.

As of Thursday, the Lions have not committed to making a decision one way or the other.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” coach Dan Campbell said on Thursday.

While the Lions would obviously like Hooker to get as much on-field practice as possible, the roster management becomes a little tricky this time of year. With the Lions making a playoff push, every roster spot is valuable—and there may not be room for a developmental quarterback who would only see the field if Detroit’s top two (or maybe even three) quarterbacks suddenly went down with an injury.

“We would love him to get him on, so we can continue to work with him here because otherwise, you can’t do anything. But, ultimately, yeah, I don’t think we can commit to that until we see what’s going on here and what pieces we think are coming back,” Campbell said.

As Campbell alluded to, a few Lions players are likely returning from Injured Reserve in the next few weeks, which will require a roster spot of their own. C.J. Gardner-Johnson has been medically cleared and could jump back on the roster as soon as next week. Alim McNeill is expected to return at the end of the regular season. James Houston could be back for the playoffs, too.

That said, Campbell has been very pleased by the progress already made by Hooker thus far in practice.

“He’s gotten just a little bit better every week, which is what you expect. He’s – certainly he’s raw and he’s got a ton of things he’s got to get better at and develop, but that’s what you would expect, right? He’s a rookie, he hasn’t banked any reps, anything like that in real time. So, we’re slowly working him in. He’s starting to take some of the scout team reps.”

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.