4 Lions players the Vikings should worry about in Week 9
By Nik Edlund
T.J. Hockenson – TE
The Lions took T.J. Hockenson with the eighth pick of the 2019 NFL Draft and they are starting to get a nice return on that costly investment.
Hockenson had a bit of a disappointing rookie season, as he hauled in just 32 receptions for 367 yards and two touchdowns. This year, he’s already surpassed most of those numbers with 29 receptions, 321 yards, and four touchdowns.
He has formed a nice rapport with Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford and he has been able to use his size and speed to create mismatches against linebackers and safeties who attempt to cover him.
Hockenson’s role on Sunday could be even bigger than most weeks. With Kenny Golladay missing the contest Marvin Jones Jr. will be elevated to the No. 1 wide receiver role. While players like Marvin Hall and Danny Amendola could see more looks, Hockenson’s role should also get a boost.
The Vikings have had mixed results against tight ends this season. They were exposed in Week 2 by Mo Allie-Cox of the Colts, and while they haven’t been that bad since, they have suffered some lapses in coverage and allowed big plays to players like Robert Tonyan of the Packers.
The Lions would be wise to utilize Hockenson as much as possible in the passing game. Spread him out wide, put him in the slot, and even in the backfield. The more they can confuse the Vikings linebackers with where Hockenson lines up, the harder he’ll be to cover. Minnesota should counter that by placing their best coverage linebacker Eric Kendricks on the dynamic tight end.
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However that shakes out, it’ll be a fun matchup to watch and one that could decide the outcome of the game.