Dan Campbell Expresses Uncertainty on Plans for Rookie QB This…

The Detroit Lions like what they’re seeing from rookie quarterback Hendon Hooker, but he doesn’t appear to be headed to the active roster anytime soon.


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Lions head coach Dan Campbell declared in May that the rookie was going to go through a “red shirt season” while recovering from a torn ACL that cut short his final season at Tennessee. While there had been speculation that Hooker might be able to join the active roster late in the season, Campbell this week tempered expectations about when he could finally take the field.

“We’re not there yet,” Campbell said on November 6, via USA Today’s Lions Wire. “But he’s getting better.

Lions' Dan Campbell Expresses Uncertainty on Plans for QB Hendon Hooker

‘No Rush’ on Rookie QB Hendon Hooker

As Lions Wire’s Jeff Risdon noted, the Lions may not feel much motivation to push Hendon onto the roster this season as there is little room on the depth chart. Starter Jared Goff is following up one of the best seasons of his career in 2022 with another stellar campaign, helping lead the team to a 6-2 record and a lead in the NFC North.

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“Hooker was throwing well and moving without much limitation during the preseason, working with trainers on getting himself ready,” Risdon wrote. “With Goff playing very well and veteran Teddy Bridgewater serving as a quality backup, there is no rush to get Hooker back in action.”

Campbell had already made it clear that there were no plans for Hooker to challenge for snaps this season. Appearing on the “Green Light with Chris Long” podcast in May, the Lions head coach said the primary focus was on completing rehab while Hooker has the chance to learn from the veterans ahead of him on the roster.

“This is a redshirt year for him,” Campbell said. “He’s gotta get this leg right first, and then he’ll learn under Jared [Goff]. And then let’s see what happens.”

Hendon Hooker as Trade Bait?

With Goff firmly entrenched as starter, some insiders have suggested that the Lions could consider trading Hooker to a team seeking a young quarterback. Former NFL general manager Randy Mueller wrote in The Athletic that Goff’s “outstanding” season could lead the Lions to consider trade offers for the rookie.

“Last year during my draft prep I saw a QB who, after a full evaluation, I felt was a possible NFL starter,” Mueller wrote. “Hendon Hooker from the University of Tennessee showed me arm talent, good athletic ability, an ability to process and NFL accuracy. He threw with enough timing and anticipation that I ranked him in my top five QBs for the 2023 NFL Draft.”

Though Mueller made the speculation ahead of this year’s trade deadline, it could still hold true for the upcoming offseason. Mueller noted that other teams who had been high on Hooker prior to the draft could be motivated to reach out to the Lions and see if he might be available.

“Jared Goff is having an outstanding year — so much so that they almost have to extend his contract at some point soon,” Mueller wrote. “To that end, if you’re a team that had similar thoughts as I did regarding Hooker and still have doubts about your QB of the future, why not make a call to Detroit?”

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