Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson officially burst on to the scene in 2020, being named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.
The 2019 first-round pick of Detroit finished with 67 catches for 723 yards and six touchdowns a season ago -- numbers that were good enough for second best on the Lions, in each of the three respective stats. The only person ahead of him in each category was now ex-Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr.
Hockenson comes into the 2021 campaign as Detroit's most reliable returning pass-catcher.
So, what will he do for an encore?
According to Lions second-year tight ends coach Ben Johnson, there is still a lot for the Iowa product to achieve, going into his third NFL campaign.
"I think it’s been a fairly consistent message all offseason from Coach (Dan) Campbell to A-Lynn (offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn) that there’s plenty meat still on that bone for him," Johnson told reporters last week. "And, I think he’s embraced that. He agrees with that, and we’re really looking forward to getting more out of him now."
Hockenson will have a new quarterback to throw to him this upcoming season in former L.A. Rams passer Jared Goff, but still expect the 6-foot-5, 247-pound tight end to remain a focal point of the offense in Motown.
And, Johnson told reporters, without being specific, that he and the Detroit coaching staff are planning on working with "Hock" on "three to five things" throughout the 2021 season that will allow Hockenson to take his game to an even higher level.
"During the season, we keep track of what he’s doing well within a four-game stretch. So, every quarter of the season, we like to keep track of that, and we kind of set goals for him for each four-game stretch," Johnson expressed. "We feel like we’ve got a good handle over the course of the season (on) what he’s excelling at, where he needs to improve. At the end of the season, we do a big review, where was he, were we right with all that? And then, what did it look like? And so with Coach Campbell coming in and all these new coaches is a new set of eyes, and it reaffirmed a lot of things that I thought."
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With his talent level and considering the fact that the Lions' receivers room will not be as deep as it was last season, Hockenson has a solid chance to expand upon his 2020 production.
I'm a part of the camp that believes Hock, with more opportunities headed his way, will put up even bigger numbers in 2021.
My '21 stat line prediction for Hockenson: 82 receptions, 908 yards and eight touchdowns
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