LANDOVER, Md. — T.J. Hockenson put himself by way of one last set of drills Saturday evening earlier than heading to mattress. He wasn’t engaged on route working or blocking approach.
No, Hockenson simply needed to “not less than know what I used to be doing” in his first recreation for the reason that Minnesota Vikings acquired him in a trade-deadline take care of the Detroit Lions, he mentioned. So he met on the crew lodge with Vikings observe squad quarterback David Blough, his teammate for elements of three seasons in Detroit, to take a last run by way of the decision sheet the Vikings would use Sunday in opposition to the Washington Commanders.
“He was like, ‘You are prepared, dude. You bought this,'” Hockenson mentioned.
Was he ever. Hockenson began Sunday’s recreation in opposition to the Commanders, transformed a 3rd down with a 19-yard reception on the third play — the longest achieve by certainly one of their tight ends this season — and went on to catch all 9 passes thrown his method within the Vikings’ 20-17 victory over the Commanders.
“It took me about 4 months to be taught [this offense],” quarterback Kirk Cousins mentioned with fun. “He did it in like 4 days. So he is type of making me look unhealthy. Not one time within the huddle did I really feel like he was taking a look at me like he did not know what to do. Simply very a lot on prime of it [and] gave me a way of ease consequently. … He helped us right this moment.”
Normal supervisor Kwesi Adofo-Mensah acquired Hockenson for quite a lot of short- and long-term causes. From a right away perspective, nevertheless, it was clear the Vikings wanted assist on the place. They entered the week with the NFL’s lowest common of yards per reception amongst tight ends (7.3). The one query was how shortly they may get Hockenson concerned.
As soon as the commerce was accomplished final Tuesday, Hockenson packed a bag in Detroit and made it to the Vikings’ observe facility in Eagan, Minnesota, at about 9:30 p.m. By 10 p.m., the Vikings had issued him a crew iPad, and he went to work studying an offense that flummoxed Cousins and plenty of different veterans once they first encountered it this spring.
Blough, who spent coaching camp with Hockenson and the Lions, helped translate related ideas into the Vikings’ terminology. The 2 met earlier than and after every observe, based on Cousins. The remainder of the time, Hockenson labored with tight ends coach Brian Angelichio to make sure a working data of all of the ideas that might be concerned within the recreation plan.
“We didn’t actually dumb something down,” coach Kevin O’Connell mentioned. “We didn’t have a separate offense when T.J. was in there. I’m amazed at how ready he was to play. I feel it is a testomony to his work ethic, his means to retain plenty of data, after which clearly the teaching by Brian to only get with him and type of be at his aspect for 5, six days in a row in hopes of getting him able to go.”
Alongside the way in which, Hockenson additionally recorded the Vikings’ major calls as a voice notice on his telephone so he may put himself by way of drills when he wasn’t with Blough or Angelichio.
“I simply needed to pay attention again,” Hockenson mentioned, “in order that when it got here out of Kirk’s mouth, I needed it to be second nature so I did not have to consider it. Actually it wasn’t too unhealthy right this moment [but] the final 4 days, it has been a grind.”
Hockenson’s 9 catches Sunday had been probably the most by a Vikings tight finish in a single recreation since Week 15 of the 2018 season. He now owns the Vikings’ longest (19 yards) and second-longest (17) catches by a decent finish this season. He’s already tied for second amongst Vikings tight ends with 5 catches for first downs. All informed, he performed 60 of 66 snaps (91%), probably the most in a single recreation by a Vikings tight finish this season.
“I attempted my hardest this week to be taught the whole lot,” he mentioned. “I actually did. That is type of the usual I placed on myself, to be a man that in the event that they wanted me, I’d not less than know what I used to be doing. That was a giant emphasis for me this week, to be prepared when my quantity was known as, and I used to be ready to do this.”