T.J. Hockenson Has Proven to Be Everything for Minnesota

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A year ago, the Minnesota Vikings needed to again replace Irv Smith Jr. at the tight end position, and getting T.J. Hockenson to do it has proven to be everything the franchise needed. On a weekly basis in 2023, he has been nothing short of dominant.

T.J. Hockenson Has Proven to Be Everything for Minnesota

Heading into the 2023 NFL regular season, the Minnesota Vikings made it known that T.J. Hockenson would be both a part of their immediate plans and the considerable future. Inking him to a lucrative long-term deal, the superstar tight end would be here to stay. That was good news for Kirk Cousins, Kevin O’Connell, and everyone involved with the organization.

Hockenson Has Proven
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Since that moment, Hockenson has not only elevated his game but has been nothing short of a warrior on a weekly basis.

Through just 10 games this season, Hockenson already has 71 receptions, which puts him on track to blow by the 86 he hauled in as a career-high last year. At 681 yards, he should have a chance to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career, and with four touchdowns to his credit, topping his career best of six seems to make sense as well.

Before Cousins went down, Hockenson was a vital part of the offense alongside both Justin Jefferson and the emerging Jordan Addison. Since Josh Dobbs has taken over, Addison and Hockenson have done all of the heavy lifting, and even with Jefferson slated to come back, the tight end will remain a focal point going forward.

Coming into Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints, Minnesota’s tight end dealt with a rib injury on top of plenty of other bruises. It’s clear he has been walking wounded for weeks, but he just continues to keep showing up. Against the Saints, Hockenson took multiple significant hits following catches, and while there were moments he was slow to get up, he just kept doing so.

Vikings TE Gets
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That resilience has been the key takeaway regarding Hockenson this year. Sure, he put up 134 yards on 11 receptions Sunday, but the most impressive narrative was how he continued to take hits and come back for more. While he needed a play off here or there, it was never determined that the sideline was where he needed to stay. Exhibiting the mentality of a true warrior, Hockenson looks the part of a guy who just loves playing football and will stop at nothing in order to do so.

As Dobbs continues to acclimate to the offense and weapons around him, you can bet that Hockenson will remain among his most trusted security blankets. The tight end position often allows for a reliable checkdown option, and having a talent like Hockenson at that position elevates the opportunity a significant amount. Dobbs should continue to rely on the superstar tight end, and Minnesota stands to benefit from him doing so.

Hockenson Chatter
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Paying a second-round pick to a division rival isn’t an ideal outcome, but getting a player as good as Hockenson from the Detroit Lions was beyond worth it. Minnesota was not going to find this type of talent with that pick, and being able to plug him in immediately was nothing short of exceptional.

For years, the Vikings hoped that Irv Smith Jr. would become something of substance. There was a desire to find the peak version of Kyle Rudolph or the great tight ends of yesteryear. In Hockenson, it’s arguable that Minnesota has the best to ever play the position in franchise history, and watching him on a weekly basis is beyond a treat.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.