The Detroit Lions have no shortage of players who need to step up in a big way for the 2020 season, but perhaps the biggest is tight end T.J. Hockenson.
Hockenson had a promising rookie season cut short by injury, but now the tight end is looking set to make a big return and is on track to do so according to his offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Speaking Wednesday, Bevell was asked about Hockenson and said that he is running routes and while he might not be fully healed, he is progressing well toward that goal.
Detroit needs Hockenson to be able to contend in 2020, and if he is healthy, that would be a big plus for the Lions and their offense. Detroit has had a virtual offseason to this point, and it will be interesting to see where Hockenson is at when the team gets back together as potentially expected in late July.
As it sounds from this update, Hockenson should be a go at that point.
Tony Gonzalez Lauds T.J. Hockenson
According to Fox Sports analyst Tony Gonzalez, the future is bright for Hockenson, who can be a great player in the league, and even an All-Pro. Gonzalez spoke with Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press in a piece, and provided his take on Hockenson, who he said could be destined for stardom.
Here’s what he said:
“He can be an All-Pro, no doubt about it,” Fox analyst Tony Gonzalez said Tuesday at Super Bowl 54. “Get him in the right system, he can be an All-Pro.”
Hockenson finished the season with 32 catches for 367 yards, third among rookie tight ends, but he impressed Gonzalez in other areas on and off the field.
“He’s great,” Gonzalez said. “He’s great. You know what the luxury of these tight ends that you’re seeing, when I was coming up — back in my day — you didn’t see too much of that receiving-type tight end, being so involved in the offense.
“And so for him to see guys like (Travis) Kelce and to see (George) Kittle in this game, he’s got to be inspired. And watching his ability, he’s a baller. Like, he is on his way to having an outstanding career.”
Gonzalez said that Hockenson can be as good as he wants to be for the Lions as long as he continues to work hard and challenge himself. Safe to say that won’t be a problem for a hard working young player, so the sky could be the limit, especially if he works with Gonzalez.
Injuries Cost T.J. Hockenson This Season
After his sterling debut, Hockenson faced injury trouble almost immediately. He hit the turf hard playing against the Kansas City Chiefs and missed time, was nearly hurt again in the middle of the season against the Oakland Raiders. Late in the season, Hockenson sustained a sickening looking foot injury which left him in a boot and cost him the end of the season.
Hockenson didn’t stay healthy, and if he had, would probably have enjoyed a much better year on the field. The good news? He seems to be progressing nicely toward that goal during the offseason.
T.J. Hockenson’s Role With Lions
There is simply no understating the importance of Hockenson to the Lions in the future. The team didn’t get much of anything from any of the other tight ends on their roster, and while he hasn’t had the most dramatic statistical impact, Hockenson has easily been one of the team’s top rookies in 2019 and a player capable of impacting both the run and the passing games.
During the season, many fans chided Hockenson for not making a bigger impact on the game. He had only 367 yards and 2 touchdowns on the year which is not the statistical impact that many people expected from him as a top 10 selection for the team.
Safe to say if Hockenson was able to play the end of the season, his stats could have ended up different. The Lions will hope he can get things on the right track for 2020.
It is certainly good news to hear that he is able to run and is progressing in the right direction.