Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was the team’s tight ends coach for two years before being promoted to his current job this offseason and it sounds like one of his former charges will stand to benefit from Johnson’s job title.
T.J. Hockenson was named a Pro Bowler in 2020 and caught 128 passes over the last two seasons, which explains why the team picked up their option on the 2019 first-rounder’s contract for the 2023 season. It also explains why Johnson is working to expand Hockenson’s portfolio as he heads into his fourth season with the team.
“Ben has seen me do routes that most guys or coordinators wouldn’t think that a tight end could do,” Hockenson said, via the team’s website. “Splitting me out, running a comeback, splitting me out and running things that really only wide receivers do. He’s seen me run it and he’s seen me run it well. Just being able to have that in his head — we’re already seeing it now [with me] being split out and doing some things and showing what we got.”
The Lions worked to upgrade their wide receiver group this offseason, but successfully implementing the expanded route tree for Hockenson should position him for the primary position in the team’s passing game this fall.