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2021 training camp preview: Tight end 

On the roster: T.J. Hockenson, Darren Fells, Jake Hausmann, Alize Mack, Charlie Taumoepeau, Hunter Thedford, Brock Wright, Hunter Bryant (NFI)

Key losses: Jesse James

Table inside Article
Name Games Rec. Yards Avg. TD
T.J. Hockenson 16 67 723 10.8 6
Darren Fells^ 16 21 312 14.9 4
Jake Hausmann* 1 1 13 13.0 0
Brock Wright* 3 3 21 7.0 0
Hunter Bryant (NFI) 5 1 44 44.0 0
Alize Mack 0 0 0 0.0 0
Charlie Taumoepeau 0 0 0 0.0 0
Hunter Thedford 0 0 0 0.0 0

^ with another team *college stats

Best competition: Third tight end

Hockenson has developed into a Pro Bowler and one of the top tight ends in the NFL in just two seasons in Detroit, and the veteran Fells has recorded 11 touchdown receptions over the last two years. That's a nice one-two punch at the position for the Lions' offense.

Where things get interesting in training camp is seeing who emerges as the third option behind Hockenson and Fells. Bryant showed some flashes in camp last year and had a big 44-yard catch in the regular season, but he's currently on the reserve non-football injury list with an undisclosed injury and his status moving forward is in question.

Wright stood out in the spring among the players vying for a roster spot at tight end. We'll see if that holds true in camp as well, or if someone else emerges.

Twentyman's take: Quarterback Jared Goff built a really nice rapport with Hockenson throughout OTAs and minicamp. So much so that it wouldn't be surprising at all if Hockenson leads the team in targets, receptions and touchdowns in 2021. He was that good this offseason.

Hockenson is one of the best tight ends in the league. He's having more fun and letting his personality shine through under this new regime, and should be poised for a monster 2022 season.

Fells was a nice get for the Lions in free agency. He allows offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn to be creative in using two receiving tight ends on the field together, whether that's more 12 personnel or being able to stand up Hockenson and move him around.

The Lions are in a pretty good spot at tight end with Hockenson and Fells, and we'll see if a third player emerges at the position in camp.

By the numbers:

5: Tight ends that have been named to the Pro Bowl in Lions franchise history. Hockenson was the first last year since David Sloan in 1999.

40: The first-down receptions for Hockenson last year were third most in the NFL behind only Travis Kelce and Darren Waller.

529: The amount of yards after the catch amassed by Hockenson over the last two seasons is the fifth most in the NFL over that stretch.

Quotable: "T.J. was a guy I was obviously high on when he came out of Iowa," Lions general manager Brad Holmes told this offseason. "But I will say watching him now, and even last year and in year's past, he is one of the better balanced tight ends that can contribute in both phases.

"He's got the athletic ability and the route savvy and the quickness and the agility. He's got all that to be a threat in the passing game, but the way he can contribute in the run game as well, sometimes (with other players) you're not getting both."

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