Career Game on Tap for T.J. Hockenson

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When the Minnesota Vikings host the Detroit Lions on Sunday, a whiteout won’t be the only notable thing taking place inside of U.S. Bank Stadium. T.J. Hockenson has an opportunity to put a big stamp on his season by notching new career-best marks.

Career Game on Tap for T.J. Hockenson

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah swung a trade for T.J. Hockenson because Kirk Cousins needed more pass catchers, and Irv Smith Jr. couldn’t stay on the field. It was a sizeable return sent to Detroit, but Hockenson has quickly become one of the best tight ends in the league and finds himself rostered by the Vikings for the long haul.

Career Game on Tap
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It’s not coincidental that Minnesota needed Hockenson to step up this season after Justin Jefferson went down with a hamstring injury. What that would look like remained to be seen, but the production through 14 games has spoken for itself. Despite bumps and bruises that have often left him crumpled on the field following a play, Hockenson is just 13 yards from setting a new career high in receiving.

Coming into this week’s tilt, Hockenson has hauled in 91 receptions for 902 yards. The reception totals are already a career-best, and he will soon surpass his 129 career high in targets. Working as a safety blanket for whatever quarterback has been under center post-Cousins, Hockenson has been both a steady and reliable option. His five touchdowns are just one off of tying a career-high, and he could also reach a new water level there.

Vikings TE Gets
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Accomplishing some or all of these feats against the team that drafted him would also be a nice storyline. Hockenson played against Detroit just once last season when the Vikings went to Ford Field. He caught six of eight passes for 77 yards in a game the Vikings dropped by a score of 34-23. Despite being underdogs this time around, it would be nice to see Minnesota exact some revenge.

After falling short last week against the Bengals, Minnesota finds themselves with just a 7-7 record. The New Orleans Saints dropping Thursday Night’s contest to the Los Angeles Rams didn’t help the Vikings’ playoff status, and Minnesota will need to continue threading the needle if they want to be playing when the regular season ends.

This has been a trying year for head coach Kevin O’Connell. He has needed four different quarterbacks through the team’s first 14 games, and Minnesota has come up short in multiple spots where they executed at a much better clip only a year ago. Finding a way to make the playoffs, even without likely Super Bowl aspirations, would be a minor miracle in and of itself. Because of players like Hockenson, the Vikings find themselves in this position, and three more games of execution could get them there.

Hockenson Contract
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As a changing of the guard takes place for tight ends across the league, it isn’t lofty to think that a year from now, Hockenson could be considered the best at the position. He is just 26 years old, and plenty of high-level football should be ahead of him.

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.