Monday, September 28, 2020

TJ Hockenson off to franchise record start with Lions


ByDAVID EICKHOLT 4 hours ago


T.J. Hockenson has had a strong start to his 2020 season. After a devastating ankle injury prematurely ended his rookie season, the former Iowa Hawkeyes star has been a consistent weapon for Matthew Stafford

In Detroit's 26-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals, Hockenson finished with four receptions totaling 53 yards. Following the performance, the Detroit Lions' PR account tweeted out a feat that Hockenson has already accomplished this season.  


"(T.J. Hockenson) is the first TE in franchise history to produce at least 50 receiving yards in each of the first three games of a season. He is also the first Lions tight end to have 4+ receptions and 50+ yards in 3-straight games since TE Brandon Pettigrew did so in 2010."


Through three games this season, Hockenson has 13 catches totaling 171 yards and one touchdown. It's a solid start, especially considering that Hockenson told reporters in August that he still doesn't feel one hundred percent.


During his rookie season, the former Iowa star went on to appear in 12 games with seven starts, hauling in 32 receptions on 59 targets for 367 yards and two touchdowns.


Earlier this offseason writer Adam Rank previewed the Lions 2020 season and believes that Hockenson will be a breakout star for Detroit this season. 


“A lot of people called the tight end "Patricia's Gronk" after Detroit selected him at No. 8 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft,” Rank wrote. “And those folks doubled down on that sentiment when Hockenson caught six passes for 131 yards and a touchdown in the season opener. But he never came close to that kind of production again, totaling just 26 catches for 236 yards and a touchdown over the rest of the season.


“Honestly, not a huge surprise, considering A) the TE position usually takes a few NFL seasons to master, B) Hockenson was limited by injuries and C) Stafford missed half the year. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Hockenson can do in 2020.”


Prior to the start of the season, Tim Twentyman of said that Hockenson is his breakout player for the Lions in the 2020 season. 


"The tight end position is probably the toughest for rookies to learn outside of quarterback," wrote Twentyman. "It's essentially learning three positions at once, and those guys have to know all the protections, blocking schemes and then obviously the route tree and passing game concepts."


"We don't typically see tight ends come into the league and tear it up as rookies. There's plenty examples, however, of guys having big second seasons, and that's certainly what I expect from Detroit's first-round pick in 2019."


Hockenson was a star for the Hawkeyes caught 24 passes for 320 yards and three touchdowns over 13 games in 2017. But he broke out as a redshirt sophomore, hauling in 49 catches for 760 yards and six touchdowns en route to winning the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end and being named a first-team All-American.


The former Iowa star is currently on pace to finish 2020 with 69 receptions totaling 922 yards and five touchdowns. Hockenson and the Lions will return to action on Sunday when they host the New Orleans Saints. 


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