Aaron Glenn Brushes off T.J. Hockenson Return: ‘Just Another Player’

Aaron Glenn

Getty Aaron Glenn on the field before a Lions game in 2021.

The Detroit Lions were sellers at the NFL trade deadline over a month ago, and dealt away tight end T.J, Hockenson to the rival Minnesota Vikings for a draft pick haul.

Hockenson had already played Minnesota in Week 3, but now, he will have the task of coming back to Ford Field to play the Lions as an opponent. It’s not a situation the Lions are blowing up mentally before the game whatsoever.

In spite of the trade, the team is not dwelling on Hockenson’s return. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn spoke to the media including Colton Pouncey of The Athletic on Thursday, December 8. As he said, Hockenson is simply another good player for the Lions to deal with.

“Aaron Glenn on facing former TE T.J. Hockenson: “He’s just another player on another team that we’ve gotta watch out for,” Glenn said in the presser as Pouncey tweeted.

Pouncey quickly clarified that Glenn’s tone was not disrespectful to Hockenson, simply a case of a team locked-in on who they are playing week in and week out.

“For what it’s worth: this was very much a “you play who’s in front of you” type of comment,” Pouncey tweeted.

It might have come off to some as disrespectful, but really, the point Glenn is making is the Lions are simply now tasked with shutting Hockenson down, not worrying about his return.

After being dealt away, Hockenson made some comments about finally experiencing winning football that drew the ire of some fans. Detroit has suddenly won four of five games, and with an upset over the Vikings, could put themselves in playoff contention.

This week, they will simply have to find a way to slow down their former teammate if they want to keep the momentum going.

Hockenson Deal Working out for Minnesota

In the short-term, the Vikings have benefitted from having the dependable Hockenson on the team. He’s been a solid target for Kirk Cousins and the offense, and has put up solid numbers since joining.

As a whole, Hockenson has 225 yards and one touchdown with Minnesota since making the leap. That might not sound that impressive, but as ESPN’s Kevin Seifert pointed out, Hockenson has also been helping Minnesota move the chains on his catches,

“The draft picks the Vikings accumulated haven’t paid many immediate dividends due to injury. But the third trade, for Lions TE T.J. Hockenson, has been a home run at least in the short term. Tied for No. 1 among tight ends with 30 catches, 14 for first downs, since the deal,” Seifert tweeted.

Hockenson is no doubt good, but that was the exact point of what Glenn was saying. The Lions play good players every single week. Now that he’s on the other side of the rivalry, Hockenson has simply become another one of these players to Detroit this year.

Hockenson Trade Helps Lions Offseason

As for the deal, no matter how it has worked out in the meantime, it’s clear where the advantage lies for the Lions.

After the move, Detroit has a pair of first-round picks as well as second-round picks at their disposal for the future. The team has needs on both sides of the ball, but the defense is likely to see the heaviest lifting between now and the end of the draft.

Dealing Hockenson allowed the Lions to forget about having to worry about a costly contract extension coming down the pipe as well. Detroit had exercised Hockenson’s 2023 option, but beyond that, needed to negotiate a deal. They clearly didn’t want to do it.

In the absence of Hockenson, Detroit’s tight ends have not set the world on fire with production, racking up just three scores and yards. Even still, the Lions have some young building blocks at the spot, and have simply been able to distribute the ball better to some of their wide receivers.

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