Hockenson works through ear infection as Vikings' camp rolls on

EAGAN, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson has missed the majority of the team's training camp because of an ear infection that affected his equilibrium, he said Monday.

Hockenson, who was one of the NFL's most productive tight ends last season after the Vikings acquired him from the Detroit Lions, said the ear issue is "starting to get cleared up." He has been participating in the early portions of some practices, and he participated in all of what was an extended walk-through practice Monday, but has sat out contact and full-pads work.

"I want to be out there with the boys, obviously," Hockenson said. "My favorite thing is playing football with the guys in the locker room and having a great time with them. So it stinks, but on the same hand I've got to get ready for September. And that's what I'm looking forward to."

Hockenson was not certain if he would participate more fully in this week's joint practices with the Tennessee Titans, which coach Kevin O'Connell said will mark the "most important stretch of our training camp."

Hockenson ranked second among NFL tight ends last season with 86 receptions for 914 yards. He is set to play in 2023 under the fifth-year option of his rookie contract, worth $9.329 million. The Vikings have identified him as one of several players they want to sign to contract extensions, a list that also includes receiver Justin Jefferson, but no agreement has been reached. Both Hockenson and O'Connell have attributed Hockenson's absence to the ear infection, not his contract situation.

In his absence, the Vikings' depth at the position has included free agent signee Josh Oliver as well as Johnny Mundt. This week, O'Connell said Mundt is "is the best third tight end in the National Football League."