2 More Vikings Starters Suffer Season-Ending Injuries

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
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A major trend with the 2023 Minnesota Vikings has been injuries.

They’ve seen a multitude of major contributors spend time on IR, including Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, and Jordan Hicks. Now, two more Vikings starters are going to finish the season on IR after both T.J. Hockenson and D.J. Wonnum suffered season-ending injuries.

More Vikings Starters Are Done for the Year

Vikings Starters
Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) celebrates his touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

While updating reporters on some of Minnesota’s injuries, head coach Kevin O’Connell announced that D.J. Wonnum would be headed to IR after suffering a partially torn quad on Sunday while T.J. Hockenson tore both his ACL and MCL against Detroit.

This is very unfortunate for both players considering the production that they had brought to the Vikings all season long. After a slow start, Wonnum had been ramping up his pace down the stretch of the season, recording 4.0 sacks in the previous five games heading into Week 16. He is set to enter free agency in March, so the pass-rusher’s status with the Vikings is up in the air heading into the offseason.

Now, the Vikings will be forced to rely even more on Danielle Hunter to carry their pass-rush if they have any hopes of getting into the playoffs. Pat Jones should be in line to start next weekend too after a strong game against Detroit where he recorded three tackles for loss and had his first sack of the season.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Oct 29, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker D.J. Wonnum (98) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) in the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

As for Hockenson, he has been a star for Minnesota’s offense ever since he joined the team at the trade deadline in 2022.

Hockenson had already set a new Vikings tight end receptions record going into Sunday’s game and finishes his year with 95. He was well on his way to set a new receiving yards record too. Had he put together 45 more receiving yards over the final two games, Hockenson would have surpassed Joe Senser for the record. Senser totaled 1004 receiving yards during the 1981 season, a record that has stood for 42 seasons.

The ACL tear is bad enough, but the inclusion of an MCL tear suggests that there is substantial damage to Hockenson’s knee, and this injury could linger into next season. The tight end signed a new four-year, $66 million extension before the start of the season, tabbing the Iowa alumnus as the highest-paid TE in NFL history.

Sep 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Josh Oliver (84) celebrates his touchdown with tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) against the Los Angeles Chargers in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings will now turn to Josh Oliver and Johnny Mundt to carry the majority of their production at the tight end spot. The injury could also mean that Nick Muse, a 2022 seventh-round pick, could see the first offensive snaps of his NFL career.

Muse appeared in 10 games with the Vikings during his rookie season, but he played exclusively with the special teams. He is yet to appear in a game during the 2023 campaign.

Despite the injuries, Minnesota still has to try and navigate their way into the playoffs this season. The first step in doing so is taking on the Green Bay Packers at home in Week 17. That game is scheduled to kick off on Sunday, December 31st at 7:20 PM Central.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.