AFC Foe Poaches Tight End From Vikings Ahead of Week 10

Kevin O'Connell

Getty Vikings edge rusher Za'Darius Smith put his Minnesota home on the market amid offseason speculation surrounding his future with the team.

As one Minnesota Vikings tight end rejoins the active roster, another is leaving Minnesota.

The Las Vegas Raiders signed tight end Jacob Hollister off the Vikings’ practice squad on November 10, per the league transaction wire. Hollister was signed after tight end Ben Ellefson was placed on the injured reserve list.

Coincidentally, Ellefson’s elevation back to the active roster came just a day before the Raiders signed Hollister — lessening the need for Hollister who was activated for two games this season but did not register a single catch.

Jacob Hollister Never Realized Upside With Vikings

Hollister was an enticing signing when he arrived in Minnesota over a month ago.

The 28-year-old tight end entered the Vikings locker room boasting 83 receptions for 707 yards and seven touchdowns in five seasons as a pro — more than any member of the tight-end room, including then-starter Irv Smith Jr.

His 4.64 40-time was a proven asset to his prowess as a pass catcher, however, he never had a chance to flash what a source close to the Vikings speculated could be a productive upside with the team.

“I’m not sure Hollister is going to replace Smith,” a source told Heavy insider Matt Lombardo. “But he definitely has the chance to get involved in and be really productive in that offense.”

The Hollister signing proved to be just another swing at finding more talent at tight end.

Smith’s placement on the injured reserve list a week ago spurred Minnesota to make an investment at the position, trading for former Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson at the November 1 trade deadline.

Hockenson proved to be a worthwhile signing after just four days of learning the new playbook. His first catch in purple and gold was a 19-yard third-down conversion, which was the longest catch by a Vikings tight end this season. He went on to catch all nine passes thrown his way — five of which went for first downs — in a 20-17 win over the Washington Commanders on November 6.

Kirk Cousins Amazed by T.J. Hockenson’s Quick Cram of Playbook

Hockenson had one hectic week coming out of the trade deadline.

Once the trade with the Lions was finalized on the afternoon of November 1, Hockenson packed just a bad and flew to Minnesota. He arrived at the Vikings’ training facility at 9:30 p.m. that day and was given an iPad to start cramming for Sunday’s game in Washington, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert reported.

“It took me about four months to learn [this offense],” quarterback Kirk Cousins said, per ESPN. “He did it in like four days. So he’s kind of making me look bad. Not one time in the huddle did I feel like he was looking at me like he didn’t know what to do. Just very much on top of it [and] gave me a sense of ease as a result. … He helped us today.”

Former Lions backup quarterback David Blough, who signed with the Vikings after cutdown day, helped Hockenson translate similar concepts into the Vikings’ verbiage. Hockenson also visualized much of his role in the offense, recording play calls in his voice memos on his phone so he could run through drills without a play caller present.

It worked. There was no warmup period for Hockeson just four days after leaving Detroit. He played 60 of 66 offensive snaps (91%), the most in one game by a Vikings tight end this season, per ESPN.

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