Five days after being traded from the Lions to the Vikings, tight end T.J. Hockenson played in a game for Minnesota, making nine catches on nine targets for 70 yards.
“I got the call about 1:30 on Tuesday and got on a plane about 7:00 on Tuesday night, landed at about 9:00 in Minneapolis, went to the facility, got my iPad, woke up at 6:00 AM on Wednesday for a physical and kind of hit the ground running,” Hockenson said by phone. “It was a big offensive install[ation] on Wednesday. [Tight ends] coach Brian Angelichio, Coach [Kevin O’Connell], all of them did a great job just helping me learn the offense. Helping put me in a position to be successful. . . .
“I stayed pretty late on Wednesday just trying to make sure I knew everything in the base plan and then Thursday it’s third-down [package], same thing. You’ve got to be in there early, stay late just to learn it. And then Friday, it’s a ‘fast Friday’ they say, but I was in there for a while after everyone was gone, too, just trying to make sure that I had the whole game plan down. Making sure that I was able to be out there and be part of this when they needed me and there was no, ‘Hey, he doesn’t know what’s going on,’ or, ‘Hey, he doesn’t know that.’ I just really wanted to not have that be the emphasis and that’s just something that I put on myself right when I got here.”
For the fourth time in his career, Hockenson had to learn a new offense. This time, he had only four days to do it. He agreed that it’s like learning a new language. The fact that the Lions already played the Commanders allowed him to spend less time focusing on a defense he already knew and more time studying the Vikings’ playbook.
“Just being able to kind of revert my mind quickly and understand what’s going on with like what our objective is on each play and just trying to figure out the whole scheme and the whole concepts,” Hockenson said regarding the process of learning a new offense. “Hearing it come out of the mouth is a little different than reading it. I’ve read it every night on my phone, voice recorded it, put my headphones in at night and listen to it coming back to me. . . . Being in four different offenses, that’s just tricks I’ve learned to be able to memorize things a little quicker and be able to execute.”
It definitely worked, and Hockenson is already feeling comfortable. How comfortable? On a scale of one to 10, he said it’s a 9.5 — and that the only reason it isn’t a 10 is because he’s still living in a hotel.