Lions HC Dan Campbell discusses QB Hendon Hooker

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Hooker was in the midst of a terrific final season at Tennessee when he suffered an ACL tear that cut his season short and undermined his draft stock. Detroit added the big-armed passer anyway, viewing him as a talent worth developing behind Goff. 

The club subsequently signed Teddy Bridgewater to operate as Goff’s QB2, but with Bridgewater having retired, the backup quarterback role is there for the taking.

Hooker’s competition for the gig is Nate Sudfeld, who suffered an ACL tear of his own last August. Hooker’s ceiling is much higher than Sudfeld’s, but Lions HC Dan Campbell will not simply hand the job to Hooker.

As ESPN’s Eric Woodyard writes, Hooker showed flashes of promise during last week’s minicamp, though he has also struggled at times with his accuracy. Per Campbell, Hooker will need to “take a step up” to secure the QB2 post.

“We need to feel like by the end of [training] camp this guy can run this offense,” Campbell said. “He’s somebody that we know we can play the game a certain way. We know he’s going to be able to process the information. He’s going to get us in the right play and he’s going to keep the ship afloat. That’s it.”

Woodyard says the Lions are committed to developing Hooker, despite Goff having proven that he is capable of leading the team on a Super Bowl run and landing a massive extension last month. 

To that end, Detroit put Hooker through a “rigorous routine” during their offseason work, and the expectation is that he will have a firm grasp on the offense when the club reconvenes for training camp.

“We don’t need him to come in and win a game,” Campbell added. “You just want to feel like, ‘all right.’ So obviously, he’s going to need to take another step up.”

Hooker threw for a whopping 58 touchdowns against just five interceptions in an admittedly QB-friendly offense at Tennessee after a less productive stint at Virginia Tech. 

“I’m just learning these lessons as I go. I’m going to fail some, I’m going to pass some. But it’s all about just learning and banking these reps. … Just getting back into the rhythm of moving off my spot and completing balls and just playing free, that’s what I’m trying to get to. Just playing free like I was at Tennessee,” Hooker said.

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