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Detroit Lions activate QB Hendon Hooker, waive K Riley Patterson

The Lions have activated third-round rookie quarterback Hendon Hooker from the non-football injury list.

NFLPA Rookie Premiere Portrait Session Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the Detroit Lions announced they are activating third-round rookie quarterback Hendon Hooker from the non-football injury list and waiving kicker Riley Patterson in a corresponding move.

Hooker tore his ACL in November of 2022 while at the University of Tennessee and the Lions have slowly been working with him to return from injury. The Lions opened up Hooker’s evaluation window three weeks ago, and on the final day of the process, the Lions were required to make a decision on his status, which led to him being activated to the 53-man roster.

This decision shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as coaches have said all season they planned on bringing the rookie back when able to, so they could develop him for his future NFL role. Then, on Monday, coach Dan Campbell essentially confirmed the news at his press conference.

For the remainder of the season, Hooker is expected to play the QB3/emergency quarterback role behind Jared Goff and Teddy Bridgewater. But with Bridgewater telling Dave Birkett of the Free Press that he plans on retiring at the end of the season, getting Hooker some reps sooner than later is important to his development.

Because of a new rule implemented by the NFL at the suggestion of the Lions this past offseason, the Lions have the option to keep Hooker as a game-day inactive through the end of the season and the playoffs, yet still have him available as an emergency quarterback if the situation calls for it—see the San Francisco 49ers’ situation in the NFC Championship game last post-season.

While the Lions have a crowded roster right now, and are expected to return a few more players from injured reserve—C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Jason Cabinda are expected to start their evaluation window this week—adding Hooker now shows how much they value getting him up to speed as quickly as possible.

The decision to waive Patterson comes after he was a healthy scratch in Week 15 and benched in favor of practice squad kicker Michael Badgley. While the Lions not having a kicker on their active roster is a bit unusual, it’s worth pointing out that Badgley still has two more elevations remaining, which can buy the Lions up to two more weeks before they need to add a kicker to the roster.

Patterson successfully made 15 of his 17 field goal attempts this season, but also missed two extra points, the most recent being in Chicago for Week 14’s matchup with the Bears, which may have played a role in his benching the following week. But the decision to move on likely has more to do with the Lions ability to trust Patterson in critical moments. More often than not, when the Lions were in a fourth down situation where a field goal attempt was over 50 yards, the Lions would opt to go for it, rather than attempt the kick.

For now, expect the Lions to lean on Badgley, knowing that a decision on his status is also looming.

“Yeah, they’ve been competing now for about five weeks,” Campbell said following last week's game. “I mean before the Chargers. So, this was something we wanted to do, give Badge (Badgley) a go with Riley (Patterson) and they’ve been battling it out, and he won it. For this game, it just was right and it’s been that way for a while and this was the right move and so we’re going to go there. Got a lot of faith in Badgley.”

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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.