The red-shirt portion of Hendon Hooker’s rookie season with the Detroit Lions has reached its conclusion.
Head coach Dan Campbell, who said during the pre-season that the rookie quarterback would be having a “red-shirt” year as he recovered from a torn ACL, told reporters on December 18 that Hooker was ready to join the active roster.
As Justin Rogers of the Detroit News reported, Hooker concluded his three-week acclimation window and the team faced a decision on whether to activate him or place him on season-ending injured reserve. The Lions moved him to the roster, which could pave the way for his first NFL action.
Slow Recovery Process for Rookie
Hooker has been recovering from the torn ACL that cut short his final season at Tennessee, and was unable to participate in most of the team’s offseason activities. The team decided to activate his three-week practice window at the end of November, with Campbell saying at the time that the move would give the coaching staff the ability to begin working with him on the field.
Hendon Hooker practicing NFL football for the first time. pic.twitter.com/BWudUCaqIM
— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) November 29, 2023
“By rules, we can’t coach him,” Campbell said, via the Detroit News. “We can have him in meetings, but he can’t be out there and going through any fundamental work. You just kind of got to stand there. That’s where it helps, to be able to actually do individual work with him, have him take a snap. That’s why it’s big. It would be nice to be able to do some of those things with him. That’s why you have to get him on the roster. Otherwise, the rules don’t allow for him to do any of that.”
The Lions are on the verge of clinching their first divisional title in three decades, but Hooker could potentially see the field if they have seeding locked up going into the final weeks and want to keep starter Jared Goff protected.
Backup Quarterback Nearing End of the Road
Veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been serving as Goff’s backup this season, but the 10-year veteran announced this week that he planned to retire after the conclusion of the season.
Bridgewater also had a career derailed by injuries. After joining the Minnesota Vikings as a first-round pick in 2014, he led the team to an 11-5 record in his season season but suffered a torn ACL the following offseason and faced a long recovery.
Bridgewater was able to return, but continued to suffer injuries between starting stints with six different NFL teams. Speaking to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press on an interview published on December 16, Bridgewater said he does not put much effort thinking about what could have been if he remained healthy.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Bridgewater told Birkett. “Injuries, highs, lows, the success, the failures. It all, it builds character, and that’s what it did for me.
“Like I never look like, ‘Oh man, what if?’ Nah. Whatever was meant for me, it played out the exact way it was meant. And I’m still with that mindset every day.”