| The Detroit News
With each passing game, it feels like T.J. Hockenson is so close to putting it all together.
The Detroit Lions tight end, in his second season, has flashed in every aspect of his role this year. In each of the first three games, he recorded at least four receptions for 50 yards, but the run blocking was subpar. And in recent weeks, the run blocking has been superb, but he’s only snagged four balls for 26 yards the past two games.
“I think right now, just looking for him to be more consistent, basically down in and down out,” Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said on Tuesday. “If you watched this last game, probably one of his best games, in terms of his overall blocking. I thought he did a really nice job there, kind of took a step forward.
“Still, I think there were some things in the pass game that we’re looking for him to continue to gain some separations and come through with some big plays for us.”
Bevell acknowledged Hockenson’s development suffered a setback due to last year’s season-ending ankle injury. That required the rookie to shift his focus to rehab as opposed to continuing to hammer out the finer points of his technique.
But now that he’s back to full strength, the Lions are looking to Hockenson to continue on the upward trajectory that led the team to select him with the No. 8 pick in the 2019 draft.
In addition to his blocking, another area Hockenson has seen growth has been in the red zone. He’s quickly developing into one of quarterback Matthew Stafford’s favorite targets inside the 20-yard line. So far the young tight end has seen seven targets in the red zone, including three straight in Sunday’s victory over Jacksonville.
That’s resulted in a team-high three touchdown catches.
“I do think he’s one of our go-to guys,” Bevell said. “I think he’s one of the guys that we’re trying to create plays, create opportunities for.”