Thursday, December 10, 2020

NOTEBOOK: Hockenson taking off in second season


Dec 09, 2020 at 03:29 PM

Tim Twentyman

Senior Writer

When the Lions drafted tight end T.J. Hockenson No. 8 overall in the 2019 draft, they knew there would be some growing pains as a rookie. Playing tight end in the NFL is tough business for first-year players, and while Hockenson showed flashes as a rookie, he needed to get more comfortable playing in the NFL.


Now in his second season, his production has seen a significant uptick. Hockenson currently leads all NFC tight ends in receptions (52), yards (614), yards after the catch (288), first downs (33), 10-plus-yard completions (28), and he's second in touchdowns (5) and third in 25-plus-yard receptions (4). As a result, Hockenson leads the Pro Bowl voting at tight end in the NFC.


"I think he's doing a really nice job for us," Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said Wednesday of Hockenson. "He can kind of do it all. He can block, he can run, catch and do all that sort of stuff for us. So, his role just keeps expanding. His route tree does the same just keeps expanding in the things that he can do. Hock's obviously a young player, but a talented player, and he's doing a nice job."


Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell was asked Wednesday what he's seen as the biggest development from year one to year two with Hockenson.


"I think that's the most important part about this thing, is he's willing to learn the X's and O's, he's really willing to put the time in, out on the field he's getting extra stuff with Matthew (Stafford) and the quarterbacks at times," Bevell said.


"It's the behind the scenes things that you don't get to see that he's doing every day. He works hard at his craft. There is stuff you get a comfort level – remember, at the beginning of the year he's coming off that injury; we're limiting him a little bit. So he has that comfort level with Matthew, I think they have that good relationship where they know what each other is getting ready to do. I think that helps as well. Right now, he's playing really well for us."


Hockenson will look to keep his impressive season going this week against a Green Bay defense that hasn't allowed a 100-yard performance by any opposing tight end this season and has only allowed three touchdowns to the position all year.

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