For Detroit Lions TE T.J. Hockenson, here’s what’s better than scoring a touchdown

Detroit Free Press

For the Detroit Lions’ best pass catcher, scoring a touchdown is, at most, the second-best feeling in football.

“I’ve spent a lot of offseasons with (San Francisco 49ers tight end) George (Kittle) now and our kind of motto is, ‘the best feeling in the world is moving a guy from Point A to Point B against his will,’” Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson said. “I think that’s just the biggest satisfaction in the game of football.”

Hockenson has enjoyed plenty of satisfaction this season, both blocking and catching the ball.

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He has been a key pass-blocking component of a Lions offense that ranks ninth in the NFL in fewest sacks per pass attempt.

He delivered a key run block on D’Andre Swift’s 1-yard touchdown plunge in last week’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

And he leads the Lions with 173 yards receiving on 18 catches through three games.

Hockenson is coming off an unusually quiet receiving performance against the Ravens, though, as Baltimore bracketed him in coverage at seemingly every turn and held him to two receptions for 10 yards.

Lions coach Dan Campbell said Wednesday it’s up to him and his staff “to be more creative in the way that we try to get” Hockenson the ball.

“We’re going to have to move him a little bit more and shift him and try to hide him if we can, or at least give him some access,” Campbell said. “And then even after all that, if they’re still willing to do that, the second read’s got to be somebody we think can win. He’s got to be able to win for us.”

Hockenson, who is on pace for career-highs of 102 catches and 980 yards, said he was “not discouraged” by last week’s effort, and chalked the day up to the cyclical nature of football.

After back-to-back eight-catch performances to start the season, Hockenson appeared to be a bigger focal point of the Ravens’ defensive efforts. That freed up Swift, who had seven catches for 60 yards, to do more damage in the pass game.

“They can’t double each of us,” Hockenson said. “So whoever they’re not, we’ve just got to win. That’s just how the game goes. Like I said, I’m not too worried about it. I think it was just one week.”

Who leads the passing attack this week against the Chicago Bears is less important, Hockenson said, than the 0-3 Lions getting their first victory of the season .

“Wins in this league are hard to come by and you have to keep grinding and have to keep pushing in order to get them,” he said. “And so we’re not going to come by one. It’s not just going to be handed to us. We’ve got to take one and that’s kind of our mindset in this entire building is we’ve got to take a win. We’re not going to be handed one, we’re not going to be given one, and it’s not going to come easy, we just got to take it. So I think that’s how we’re approaching this game and that’s how we’re approaching every other week going forward.”

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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