Why T.J. Hockenson is confident Detroit Lions’ season can still ‘go the way we want it to’

Detroit Free Press

Carlos Monarrez
| Detroit Free Press

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T.J. Hockenson believes in his team, even if no one else, including reporters, does.

The Detroit Lions’ second-year tight end was explaining his improvement this season when he pivoted to talking about the improvement of his team after a 41-21 loss to the Indianapolis Colts dropped their record to 3-4.

“Yeah, I think I’m a better receiver now than I was in Week 1 and I think I’m a better overall player than I was in Week 1,” he said Monday during a conference call. “I think we’re a better overall team than we were in Week 1. So I guess that’s the situation that we’re in. Obviously, there’s things I still need to work on, certain things that this team needs to work on.

“But at the end of the year, like I said, we’re seven weeks in. I think we’re all optimistic — even though you guys aren’t — we’re all optimistic that this is going to go the way we want it to. And we’re just trying to get better every day. I think that’s the biggest thing. We’re just trying to get better every single day and we’re going to come out next week and get better. So I think that’s where we’re at right now.”

I’m not a Detroit Lions cheerleader, but why are people so mean to them? ]

After losing the first two games of the season, the Lions won three of their next four games. Hockenson played a significant part in that success by improving his catch percentage and tallying four touchdowns, including the last-second winner in Atlanta.

Hockenson said the Lions’ optimism derives from hard work every week that’s paired with a winning mentality.

“I think it’s just the preparation of everything,” he said. “Preparation of the week, preparation of what we’re doing inside the week. I think we’re working real hard to get to where we need to go as a team, as a collective unit.

“So I think that’s going to carry us through, just hard work and keep coming to work with that attitude. We’re not going to come in with a loser’s mentality, I think is the biggest thing. We’re coming in as winners. We need to work as winners. But I think that’s the biggest step that we need to take as a team and that we’re going to take as a team.”

Hockenson isn’t the only player to push back against reporters who pointed out that two of the Lions’ wins have come against teams with losing records. After Sunday’s loss to the Colts, linebacker Reggie Ragland bristled when he was asked about critics noting that the Lions had only beaten struggling teams.

“I’m going to go ahead and stop you now,” Ragland said. “Who cares what these critics have to say because they don’t play in this league. They don’t play football. This league is hard to win. I don’t care if it’s one-win teams, two-win teams. These critics don’t play in this league. They don’t understand.

“Getting a win in this league is as hard as it is. I don’t care what no critic got to say. Damn them. That’s why they sit behind the desk and write on papers. They don’t play this game. Next question.”

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Contact Carlos Monarrez at cmonarrez@freepress.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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