Lions rookie QB Hendon Hooker (ACL) ‘progressing really well’ ahead of training camp

NEWS

Detroit Lions rookie quarterback Hendon Hooker is headed toward a “redshirt” season as the former Tennessee product rehabs a November ACL tear.

The question entering training camp later this month is whether the third-round pick will be able to get any on-field action at all during camp or whether he’ll be relegated to mental reps.

Hooker recently told Cora Hall of the Knoxville News Sentinel that he’s “progressing really well.”

“I’m really just taking it day-by-day and continuing to build my body back up to where I want it to be and even better,” Hooker said on Saturday.

Because he tore the ACL on Nov. 19, Hooker couldn’t participate in Detroit’s offseason program. He did, however, begin throwing on air last month.

A candidate to be placed on the league’s non-football injury list to open training camp, Hooker likely won’t be a factor for the Lions in 2023, but if he can get cleared for any action at some point during camp, he’d get valuable reps that could aid his development.

“I love the Detroit staff,” Hooker said. “They’re very supportive. Always teaching and hungry to get better. There’s a competitive aspect from every coach that we have. It’s always a competition on the field. Offense, defense, it’s always going to be some chatter going back and forth, and I love that. I want be a part of something that’s going to continue to progress to get better, and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to win ballgames.”

A potential first-round pick, Hooker slid to the third round of the 2023 draft following his knee injury, where the Lions scooped him up. At worst, the former Volunteer should be a backup with upside behind Jared Goff. At best, Hooker shows dynamic starting capability that allows Detroit to have a low-cost passer at a high-cost position for a few years. We’re not close to that part of the discussion yet.

For now, Hooker continues to rehab. And the coaching staff has liked what they’ve seen.

“If he didn’t have (a great work ethic), he wouldn’t be here. He’s a smart player, puts the time in. … The most important thing is him getting strong and healthy,” quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell recently told The Detroit News. “But I’m really pleased with him. As far as the meetings are concerned, we throw a bunch of questions at those rookies and try to put them in a tough spot. And he always does a very good job, and it’s very clear that he’s putting the time in.”

As Detroit did with Jameson Williams last season, expect the Lions to play it safe with Hooker. 2023 is about Goff, and the Lions brought back Nate Sudfeld to play backup. There are zero expectations Hooker will see the field this season. As such, any work he can get under his belt during camp would be a bonus and indicate his rehab is going swimmingly.