Quarterback Jared Goff and tight end T.J. Hockenson have been dialed in as a duo all training camp long. Saturday, at Detroit's Family Fest practice at Ford Field, all the fans in attendance got to see exactly what that looks like.
Goff went to Hockenson early and often in the 11-on-11 scrimmage portion of practice, including two of Goff's three touchdown passes on the day.
The Lions were without wide receivers Tyrell Williams (rest), Breshad Perriman (hip) and Quintez Cephus (head) for practice Saturday, so Goff leaned on the tight end group led by Hockenson and veteran Darren Fells, who had a nice 26-yard grab on the first offensive possession to set up Hockenson's first touchdown grab.
It's got to be a good feeling for head coach Dan Campbell and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn to be able to lean on the tight end room whenever they need or want to.
"We have a pretty good feel of Hockenson, and he's shown up once again," Campbell said after Saturday's practice. "It does make you feel good because sometimes the perception is you don't have a certain area, or they're just having a bad day or whatever, that you know you've got somebody like the tight end or tight ends – Fells made a couple plays today – so that's something to feel pretty good about. Helps you breathe a little easy, if you will."
Campbell also mentioned the running backs as another group they feel pretty good about in the passing game.
Hockenson made plays all over the field Saturday, and that could be an indication of what's to come for the third-year tight end out of Iowa in 2021. He's coming off his first Pro Bowl season after finishing third among NFL tight ends with 723 receiving yards last season, the second most a tight end has produced for Detroit in a single season.
View photos from Day 6 of Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage on Friday August 6, 2021.
Fells, who's caught 11 touchdowns combined the last two seasons, said after Saturday's practice he jokes with Campbell all the time that the offense can play with five tight ends on the field if they ever need to. Backup tight ends Alize Mack and Charlie Taumoepeau have also made some plays in camp.
Asked about Hockenson in particular, Fells thinks Detroit has something pretty special in him.
"In my mind, he's one of the top tight ends in the NFL," Fells said. "You saw, he makes big plays when called upon. Great blocker as well. I feel like when he's next to me there's no weakness in there. I've been places where you don't know what you're going to get. With Hockenson, you know exactly what you're going to get."