BREAKING: How Vikings’ T.J went from injured to a record-setting game in seven days

On Friday, Nov. 10, after practice, tight end T.J. Hockenson arrived at his locker and started removing the pad covering the two ribs he had broken five days earlier in Atlanta.

A reporter asked him if he was OK, and he winced, making eye contact—as if any NFL player is really OK nine games into the season?

“It’s included in the agreement,” Hockenson remarked.

It is, in fact. An overview of what the human body goes through to get from one NFL game to the next is provided here:

With 4:10 remaining in the third quarter and behind Atlanta 21-13, the Vikings faced a third-and-8 from the Falcons’ 38 when Joshua Dobbs rolled right and found Hockenson, whose right rib cage was instantaneously crushed by the helmet of a 6-1, 202-pound missile called Jeff Okudah.

After Hockenson gained the first down, he realized something wasn’t right, but he continued to play. Two plays later, with Hockenson holding his ribs and blocking the play after every play, the Vikings tied the game. He would go on to catch three more passes, two of which came on the drive that won the game.

Hockenson then gave his broken physique over to contemporary sports science. The team’s head athletic trainer, Uriah Myrie, and vice president of player health and performance, Tyler Williams, host a weekly “injury clinic” following games to evaluate injuries, treat pain, minimize swelling, create personalized recovery plans, and do their best to estimate a player’s availability before the coaches begin planning the next opponent’s lineup.

“Some of these guys kind of go through minor car crashes,” Williams stated. It’s like being hurled down a flight of steps and asking yourself, ‘How soon can I get back?’

With a wide range of therapeutic techniques, such as water therapy, manual therapy, and nutritional plans for joints, bones, and soft tissues, modern sports science can expedite the process. But Williams emphasized that the first issue is player safety.

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