The Detroit Lions have some major hockey fanatics on their team, and most of them come from the squad’s rookie class. Recently, the group of new players got indoctrinated with the Detroit Red Wings, and even got a chance to get on the ice.
Tuesday, this group got together and got a closer look at the Red Wings as well as their practice facility. The group also got to go out and mess around on the ice, something which was exciting for several of the players, particularly linebacker Jahlani Tavai, who had never seen snow let alone gotten out on the ice.
Here’s a look at the players getting a look at the Red Wings:
It wasn’t just some of the newbies getting involved with pucks, however. Darius Slay admitted he was excited about the chance to go to the rink for the first time, and even checked in sharing his excitement to be in the mix.
While the Red Wings ended up losing 4-3 to the Ottawa Senators, it’s clear the football players had a good time getting out and having fun at the hockey game. It’s nice to see these guys embrace one of their local teams and get into the mix with them on a weeknight.
T.J. Hockenson Lions Top Offensive Rookie
As for the rookie class so far, Hockenson has easily been the most impressive player in the class. When the Lions drafted Hockenson, it was with the understanding that he would be able to step in immediately and play starters minutes for the offense at the needy position of tight end. He’s done that so far in a major way for the team, and while his statistics haven’t been elite to start the year, that doesn’t tell the complete tale of what Hockenson has done.
With his work in the run game, Hockenson has helped Detroit’s offense go from woeful to respectable on the ground, and that itself is a huge accomplishment. In spite of his 240 yards and 2 touchdowns and a few costly drops, Hockenson has impacted the game across the board up front and in the passing game.
It will not be a stretch to see him consistently continuing to make plays for the offense well into the future, and his hot start this season shows he can be a force as he continues to grow and learn the NFL.
For now, while it might be easy to be the top rookie in a class nearly full of defensive picks, Hockenson deserves credit for showing up and looking the part thus far very early in his NFL career.
Jahlani Tavai Lions Top Defensive Rookie
While the Lions are beginning to get solid snaps from Harris at safety, Detroit has quietly seen the majority of their impact plays come from Tavai at linebacker. He already forced one vital fumble this season, and has put up 22 tackles and 1 sack thus far this year.
Tavai is going to be a bright spot at the position, and early on, he has not looked overmatched on the field in the NFL. That’s huge given his smaller school stature and the expectations Lions fans had for him coming out of college into the draft. As Tavai continues to work in Matt Patricia’s defense, the expectation is he will get even better and be able to play even more of a consistent role for the team.
With the snaps all of Detroit’s rookies have gathered so far, they could be setting themselves up for a very bright future. Classically, playing rookies extended minutes in the NFL is indicative of a bad team, but the Lions are bucking that trend and staying competitive with them in the mix.
It’s fun to see the rookie class get involved and get into the mix with Hockeytown as much as football.
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