How Long Is Hendon Hooker Out? Injury Timeline, Return Date, More on Lions Quarterback

    Thought by many to have first-round talent, Hendon Hooker's injury helped him slide down the 2023 NFL Draft board. When might we see him play?

    Of the rookie quarterbacks from the 2023 NFL Draft class, none have more intrigue and wonder around them than Hendon Hooker. Hooker is seen by many as having the most upside, and many believe he has a high-level skill set that is pro-ready now.

    Hooker’s injury situation is what led to a fall in the draft, where he eventually ended up with the Detroit Lions in Round 3. If Hooker can return to form, this could be a draft day steal for the ages.

    How Long Is Hendon Hooker Out?

    Hooker looks to be on track to return to the field for football activities by the first weekend of the NFL season after having surgery on Dec. 13. Following the surgery, Hooker’s orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, sent a letter to every NFL team declaring Hooker would be medically cleared by the first weekend of the regular season in hopes to not have teams weary of selecting Hooker in the upcoming draft.

    During the pre-draft process, teams dove heavily into medical checks. In fact, it’s widely understood by those close to NFL circles that the Scouting Combine is most valuable for two things: Teams to discuss impending free agency and potential trades with one another and the medical testing process, which Hooker was a part of throughout the entire week.

    Typically, when a player has medical concerns, the agents or players themselves will ask the medical team to share relevant information with NFL teams in hopes of giving a clearer picture. Letting the teams and their decision-makers know that the player is expected to make a full recovery and regain his previous form, despite the injury not being permanent.

    What Is Hendon Hooker’s Injury?

    On Nov. 19 of last year, Hooker suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Tennessee’s game against rival South Carolina. As is the case with many ACL injuries, Hooker’s was non-contact.

    While running an option play, Hooker took a hard lateral step with his left foot while torquing his body to the right, where the ground impact combined with the simultaneous torque, caused the knee serving as the point of rotation, to produce the tear. As he planted and turned, Hooker crumbled to the ground.

    MORE: How the Detroit Lions Can Get the Most Out of Hendon Hooker

    The recovery time for ACL injuries has greatly improved over the last decade. It was once a career-ending ordeal, but now not so much. In what used to be a 12-14 month standard that players never quite recover fully from, we now routinely see elite athletes return in a 9-11 month window better than ever.

    Having had the surgery in December 2022, a return in early September is right within that window of time, and Hooker has hit every mark up to this point.

    At 38 weeks, Hooker would be on the field in 9.5 months. The added benefit for Hooker is that there is no pressure to play right away, with Jared Goff entrenched as Detroit’s starter for 2023. Meanwhile, Hooker can focus on his rehab with eyes for the future.

    What Does the Lions’ QB Depth Chart Look Like Behind Hooker?

    There’s no question that Goff will be the Lions’ starter this coming season. In 2022, Detroit was a top-three scoring behavior team with Goff at the helm, and nothing looks to be changed about that dynamic in 2023.

    With that situation in place, there’s no reason to rush Hooker onto the field this year. He has the luxury of recovering on his own timeline to ensure he does everything right to get him back to full health.

    As a result, it’s likely we see Nate Sudfeld start the season as the Lions’ No. 2 QB and going forward until something changes for Hooker. However, don’t be surprised that if Detroit begins to make a push for the postseason, Hooker finds himself in that No. 2 spot at the very least come season’s end.

    Related Articles