The Detroit Lions could be without their emergency quarterback for the NFC Championship, and an unfortunate tooth injury is to blame.
The Lions listed rookie quarterback Hendon Hooker as questionable for their January 28 game against the San Francisco 49ers after he suffered a chipped tooth that had to be extracted, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported.
As Rapoport noted, Hooker is expected to play and could have an important role on Sunday.
“Hendon Hooker makes the injury report… because he had a chipped tooth pulled,” Rapoport wrote on X. “That’s a new one. (He’ll be fine.)”
Lions Rookie Will Be Team’s Emergency Backstop
Hooker has not yet seen the field this year as he spent the majority of the season recovering from a torn ACL that cut short his final season at Tennessee. The rookie quarterback was able to join the active roster at the conclusion of the season and has been listed as the team’s emergency quarterback, a new designation that came about in part because of the unfortunate situation the 49ers faced in last year’s NFC title game.
The 49ers were forced to line up running back Christian McCaffrey at quarterback for part of last year’s championship game after Brock Purdy was lost with an elbow injury and veteran backup Josh Johnson suffered a concussion. McCaffrey warmed up and took snaps out of the wildcat formation before an injured Purdy returned, though by then the Philadelphia Eagles had a commanding lead.
As Justin Rogers of the Detroit News noted, the Lions proposed a rule change to allow for an emergency quarterback and it was voted in. He noted that Hooker is expected to return to this role.
“Hooker should be back in his emergency role on Sunday, assuming a late-week tooth issue doesn’t sideline him for the contest,” Rogers wrote. “As for the 49ers, they’ll also be taking advantage of the emergency QB option, with Brandon Allen as their third behind Purdy and Sam Darnold.”
Lions Have High Opinoin of Hendon Hooker
The Lions have shared praise for Hooker and the work he put in to return to the field. Though head coach Dan Campbell warned before the season that Hooker would be going through a “redshirt” year, he was able to join the active roster in December.
Campbell said at the time that it was important for Hooker to finish the season on the active roster so he could work one-on-one with the coaching staff.
“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.”
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